Preface | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Bibliography | Appendices | List of Acronyms | About the Author
Although Highlander Folk School worked with persons suffering discrimination in civil and political rights similar to those suffered by the participants in the IAF/CSO and MM projects, Highlander's emphasis on learning was greater, on learning to become a competent, problem-solving, first-class citizen. To solve a problem might well require that an organization be formed or an existing one redirected, but learning was the prior requirement. Learning, of course, was to be continuous, growing out of experience as well. This emphasis on learning goes back to the very beginning of the school and has remained so. As Myles Horton, Highlander's director, once described his approach, "What is too big for one person to handle can be figured out by all of us together. We will have a new kind of school--not a school for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, but a school for problems."
Helping people, especially the socially and economically deprived, learn
to deal with problems too difficult for individuals to solve without help
from their fellows became the focus of Highlander's work. Solving the problems,
however, was not Highlander's purpose. Its purpose was to help people
learn to solve their own problems in their own way-=providing only that
they accepted responsibility for working in accordance with democratic principles.
Commitment to the democratic process was, for Highlander, a given. What these
principles have meant in action will be explored below. That Highlander's
work in the field of community leader training should be treated in some
detail is well justified because of all the projects supported by the Emil
Schwarzhaupt Foundation (EFS), the most far-reaching results were probably
those achieved by, or under the aegis of, Highlander Folk School.1
It was the Highlander project on Johns Island, near Charleston, South Carolina, in voter registration and civic education, which Esau Jenkins, assisted by Septima Clark and Bernice Robinson, struggled to promote, which led to the very substantial work in this field by Highlander undertaken later throughout the South by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).2 It seems ironic that the highly successful work on Johns Island should have so deeply involved the teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic--the very activities excluded in Myles Horton's statement about Highlander's mission. But the irony is peripheral. Horton had excluded the "three R's" as his central concern. In the case of Johns Island and later throughout the South, the three R's became a means to achieve that which was central for Highlander--the development of effective citizens.
The history of Highlander is a significant one, but much of it has been treated in Aimee Horton's doctoral dissertation3 and in a book by Frank Adams. Therefore, only as much of the school's background and history will be introduced here as may be needed to provide a context for its work in citizenship education.
Highlander Folk School was established in 1932 at Monteagle, Tennessee, on property provided by Lillian Johnson, a former professor at the University of Tennessee. She had been trying to do individually, within the local community, the kinds of things that Myles Horton later undertook, with her encouragement, through the school.5 In 1934, Highlander received its charter as a school from the state of Tennessee. The charter stated that the school was empowered to engage in "adult education, the training of rural and industrial leaders in general academic education." It was, in short, to become a residential school for adults.
Among the seminal influences in Horton's conceptualization of the school was his contact with Professor Robert Park of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.
Through Professor Park .. , he [Horton] came to view involvement in the situation as vital to understanding. Through Park he also came to comprehend more fully the importance of social movements in the forming and reforming processes of society. From the writings of Lester Ward, he derived the concept of conflict as a basis for initiating social change by presenting people with problems which demand solutions. His ideas on the pragmatic evolving of educational programs of interaction with groups of people attempting to cope with problems had their beginnings in a series of community meetings in a rural church....
After looking at various models of adult education institutions, he decided to "find the place, the people, the situation" and, with his broad goals and notions of relating education to social movements, to "simply start and let it grow." He predicted: "It will build its own structure and take its own form."7
And so it did, continually evolving as it sought to help people learn to cope with those problems which arose from the ferment of social change. Initial efforts focused on the plight of local woodcutters who struck for higher pay. Educational activities were not carried on primarily in classes but in strategy meetings of strikers and meetings of a new community organization, the Cumberland Mountain Workers League, organized to support the strikers' wage demands and to better community living conditions. In such meetings, Highlander teachers were both participating members and resource persons, raising questions, providing information and suggesting alternative courses of action. Out of these efforts Horton "concluded that conflict or crisis could be utilized effectively as a basis for initiating a program of education for social change."8 This was based on the further premise that "people could solve their own problems provided their natural leaders could be given basic training in leadership techniques."9
Consistent with the idea of working in relation to a social movement, almost all of Highlander's educational program between 1937 and 1947 was increasingly tied to the needs of labor unions, especially CIO unions. Highlander staff not only conducted workshops for union members and staff but joined in picket-line activity. At the beginning, the Highlander labor education program was successful whereas, in Horton's opinion, such programs conducted under either Catholic or Communist-affiliated auspices were not because they had preconceived answers and Highlander did not.10
But Highlander and the unions eventually parted company. The school's emphasis on democratic values and the responsibility of the individual for developing himself in a community context ran counter to the goals of union officials. Highlander's educational approach may have been too open-ended for union officials who already knew what they wanted their members to think. The Highlander interest in the labor movement as a means for improving society did not fit with the interest of union officials in strengthening their union as a pressure group and their own roles in it."
Next, the school undertook to develop a program in which members of the Farmers' Union and labor unions in the South might join, but the farmer-labor focus never caught on. As Myles Horton recognized in retrospect, the program failed because "we were trying to create something to respond to."12 But the social situation began to change after World War II, and especially after 1950. During the war, hundreds of thousands of black people gained new experiences in the armed services, factories and cities. These led to rising expectations on the part of blacks throughout the South, culminating in the South-wide civil rights movement. Hence, the residential workshops on school desegregation, organized by Highlander, benefited from a mutually re-enforcing relationship, similar to that which had obtained earlier between the school and the emerging CIO unions for which it provided training.
A New Focus for Highlander: Community Leadership
In October 1952, Myles Horton had forwarded an application to the Foundation for a grant to enable the school to train community leaders. Because the request was couched in general terms, I undertook to visit the school in March 1953. The upshot was a revised application, in which he said:
The core of a rural citizenship movement must be the bringing together of farm families on a community basis for discussion of their problems and pooling of their efforts....We now propose to train community rather than organizational leaders in the use of discussion, role-playing, audiovisual aids and other methods for promoting rural citizenship. This implies not only initial training but a continuous relationship involving refresher courses, discussion materials and supervision. 13
Horton asked for financing on a three-year basis at an estimated cost of $14,700 per year or a total of $44,100. This was approved in April 1953.14
Horton's original application to the Foundation had been referred to the Chicago committee for a recommendation. Its report stated in part:
In our opinion, Highlander Folk School is in a position to make a real contribution to the furthering of democratic purposes in the South. Its leadership is indigenous to the South. It is centrally located from the standpoint of working in that region. It is one of the very few agencies working there which is making a forthright effort to promote participation of all citizens in public affairs without restriction as to race or creed. The South faces serious problems of land use, education, health, housing, etc. To cope with these the improvement of citizen participation is vital. Basic to improvement of such participation is the training of leadership.15
The actual unfolding of events went beyond this somewhat academic formulation. To a degree, this can be seen in Highlander statements of purpose at different stages of the work. These were not inconsistent with one another but reflected increasing sophistication in the development of objectives as a result of ongoing experiences in communities.
In 1953, the aim had been articulated thus: "The purpose of our program is to develop community leadership. The measure of success of this program is the extent to which these leaders can help build a spirit of cooperation between all groups within the community in solving their problems. The methods used in solving problems must be democratic and benefit the largest number."16 (Note the reference to "all groups," a concept which was later modified.)
Speaking to a Highlander workshop in 1961, Myles Horton enlarged on his views about the purposes of Highlander's education program. He recognized the end of the period of testing which had begun in the Sea Islands six years before. Commenting on what he saw as unique in the Highlander efforts, he said it was not because they taught people to write checks or to register to vote or even to read and write. These were part of the world that is and they might be useful and good things. But one could learn to write for the purpose of forging a check.
What was needed was the concept of what ought to be--human brotherhood, dignity and democracy.
We have kept our eyes firmly on the ought to be, and it seems to me that in our schools we have succeeded in making a pattern of procedure so that all the things that are needed down here, the specifics in the is circle--begin to move together in a direction of what ought to be, and this is the difference.17 This is the magnetic pull.
Take, for instance, an old man who had never learned to read and write, and who wouldn't want to go into an ordinary school where he would be treated as a kid. What happens to him in the citizenship school? Well, of course, the teacher must start where the man is. But at the same time he is thought of always in terms of what he can become. And because the teacher thinks of him that way, this man can think of himself that way too. That is the way I think about our classes. I think they [our classes] really are different from the kind that are being carried on in Chattanooga on the radio where teachers teach segregated classes, and the people are taught to read. (But the teachers don't talk about anything significant because if they did they might get into trouble.) Of course, some of those people are going to learn to read. But I don't think that the relationship of the teacher to the people can possibly produce the kinds of results which we are achieving in the citizenship schools because we are getting results not only in terms of reading and writing but in terms of intelligent first-class citizens--hundreds and hundreds of them--simply because we began by assuming that they could be citizens.18
In an interview in 1967, Herman Blake put the matter somewhat more succinctly:
When I asked Myles Horton to recall for me just what he set out to do in the Sea Islands, he stated that his purpose was very simple. He wanted to develop the leadership in the rural South through a process of getting the folk to articulate their problems as they saw them and then develop indigenous programs to attack those problems. His goal was not community development in terms of organization and programs, but people development in terms of their ability to articulate their problems and the development of self-confidence that they could resolve these problems. Such efforts, however, were to come only after the grassroots residents of a particular community had requested the assistance of the Highlander Folk School.19
Even before the ESF grant was made, Horton had stated his intention to shift Highlander's focus from training individuals who came to workshops primarily because of some organizational connection; so some participants had begun to come because of a concern about some community problem. And, indeed, the workshops on school desegregation scheduled at Highlander in the summer of 1953 attracted persons, such as Septima Clark, who were not sent by or on behalf of an organization but who came because they wanted to do something about a problem which concerned them. It may well be, of course, that such workshops had little immediate impact on desegregation of specific schools. Aimee Horton suggests that in the end the impact was less on actual desegregation than on the development of a concept of civic power on the part of blacks, which might in turn lead not only to desegregation but to the achievement of many other benefits.20
It is, however, correct to say that the ESF grant had been requested to underwrite training of community leaders who would return to their homes and try to enlist others in the attempt to solve community problems. Furthermore, it was intended that assistance would be given to them after they returned home. The focus was to be the kinds of problems faced by a community group rather than the program of a particular organization. More specifically:
The Highlander staff would expect to identify about five rural communities [perhaps counties or small watershed areas] principally in the Tennessee Valley in which the necessary interest and cooperation can be found. The staff would work with the local people over a period of years to help them organize to deal with their community problems. 21
Many years later, Myles Horton recalled the preliminary negotiations concerning his application: "I asked you in 1953, `Can we experiment with the money and try out some things? There are lots of ideas about the community I've rejected. Maybe I was wrong. Could I try them now?' And you agreed we could. You were the first foundation willing to give us money for an undefined and unproven program. It was the most valuable grant Highlander received." He added that he wanted to try these other approaches even though they did not square with his own training and experience. Horton went on to say: "Altoona was a test of the possibility of using staff from the outside-which was the conventional wisdom at the time. The program in Kodak was a test of the `whole community' approach." By the time we went to Johns Island, I was through with experimenting with others' ideas about people."23
The initial organizing efforts (in Monteagle, Highlander's home community, as well as in Whitwell, Tennessee, and Altoona, Alabama) were not successful. This was partly because principles and methods borrowed from others were inadequate, partly because the field staff at hand was insufficiently experienced to work effectively under the difficult conditions encountered and, in part, because there was no sense of a problem needing to be solved.
That staff members were not ready is apparent from the Highlander staff meeting reports for this period. In a report on the community leadership training program in Monteagle, Tennessee, a project begun in August 1953, a staff member summarized the steps taken to form a democratically run organization in Monteagle which would consider the possibility of improving the local public school. She reported discussing with several of her contacts her proposed introductory remarks about the purpose of the meeting and the kind of organization she had in mind. Their advice was to drop any reference to problems and issues other than school improvement because it would "confuse the people." Later in her report, she questioned Myles Horton's position that because she was working for Highlander under the community leadership program, she should not accept a post in the organization as recording secretary. She felt it was arbitrary to say that a community "educator" cannot hold office in the initial stages. She did not seem to understand that her Highlander role would, in the minds of other residents, inevitably affect and even compromise the organization role. Thus, hiring that local resident as a staff person was an unsuccessful experiment.
Her confusion about her role may have had something to do with a specific and rather significant failure. She reported that she spoke with eleven people about coming to an evening meeting to talk about trying to revive the Monteagle Civic Club. They all agreed to try to come. On the afternoon of the day of the meeting, she met three of them and reminded them of the meeting. They all said they would try to be there. No one came.24 Something was obviously wrong. (Perhaps it was the fact that the subject of the meeting was her idea rather than a need expressed by people in the community.)
When Highlander later sent people to Altoona, Alabama, and Whitwell, Tennessee, to begin the rural citizenship training program, Myles Horton cautioned the trainees against becoming a center of interest in community meetings. He pointed out that people should do their own planning--the trainee was to be in a helping position, playing no organizational role or trying to mastermind procedures or plans for a community project.25
To give the staff a common experience from which to evolve a more detailed approach to the program, it was decided they should become acquainted with one or two people in Altoona and Whitwell, presumably to seek an entry point. It was evident that Highlander contact with Altoona was very slight, having been limited to persons whom they knew only through their organizational membership in the Farmers' Union and not as members of the community. It was decided, although not without controversy among themselves, to introduce themselves as "part of an organization which we have named the `Alliance of Southern Communities.'" They said they were "interested in a community leadership training program." (This would certainly seem to be a very abrupt tactic to use in any community, let alone a rural community in the South.) In later conversations with several townspeople, they referred to frictions in the community caused by the Farmers' Union.26
In staff discussions there was concern about how to keep the staff persons in the background and yet maintain the interest of the people through something they could tackle themselves. One member expressed the need to clarify to people "what we mean by a democratic way of functioning in a community and the conception that the foundation of democracy is based in communities." They wanted to initiate a democratic process and were concerned about what they could do to bring about its development since no one in the community had evinced any previous interest in such a process. Even though Horton had said he wanted to test ideas recommended by others, he must have been uncomfortable about operating on principles not congenial to Highlander's philosophical commitments. The approach in Altoona did not take into consideration where people were in their thinking or what, if anything, they wanted to do.
Commenting on this early experience, Blake said:
The reports indicate that the trainees had considerable naiveté and lack of sophistication about how to accomplish their goals. ... There was a general feeling of apprehension about HFS activities of any sort in Altoona, Alabama ... and in a report of a field trip in mid-November 1953, the staff worker wrote, "I was really shocked by the spread of mistrust and suspicion of outsiders which had been injected into rural life--it was far beyond anything I had expected.27
Horton soon recognized that these initial community organizing efforts had failed. He wrote:
In our haste to get community projects underway at the beginning of the program we did not sufficiently examine the community issues. We pushed staff people into leadership positions before they were ready.... In Alabama, we were unable to develop the leadership rapidly enough to rise above the factionalism that had made community organization difficult. 28
At this juncture, Horton was trying to discover how to "get a handle" on the community. By the end of the first year, however, it had become apparent that something could be done in a community where a local leader knew and trusted Highlander. But a project could not be "cooked up" for a community. Leadership could be developed when people were challenged by an idea which involved them, and to be successful, there needed to be a crisis or, at least, a sense of a problem calling for new thinking. It had become unmistakably clear to Horton that Highlander must listen to people and discover their perception of themselves. Then the effort could begin to widen these perceptions, one good way to bring this about being to talk and reflect on actions they had taken.
Horton's next move was in response to a request for help from an insurance agent for the Farmers Union in Sevier County, Tennessee (near Kodak, a town about forty miles east of Knoxville). The agent said: "Why, the roads are bad, the schools are bad, farms are going to pot, everything is bad--can't get people to meet-they won't talk--they won't do anything."29 Later, Horton reviewed the situation in that area in these words:
In Kodak, there was the need for stimulation and sharpening of desires for community life. Prior to the development of the Kodak project, there were no community-wide activities or organizations. There were a few narrow interest organizations like the Farm Bureau which met once a year. There was a small local PTA made up of women who were not involved in any activities in which the men-folk participated.... Only one or two individuals in the area could be regarded as community leaders. There was a feeling of isolation from the adjacent towns and communities and actual indifference to their own community. The indifference was compounded by a feeling of inertia, and this was the quality of life which prevailed in Kodak at the time we began. 30
Horton suggested to the Farmers' Union agent that they tour around and
find out if people were interested.
We spent the day riding around, sitting around the store, talking to people, going to the farms, talking to people, and he did most of the talking. I asked a couple of questions getting him started and then when we got back home I said, "Max, what did you find out?" He said, "Well, what do you think we should do?" I said, "Well, you did all the talking, you asked the questions." He said, "Did I?" I reminded him what had gone on and in summarizing the situation himself, he found out he had made a pretty good survey of the interests of the people. And they all said the same thing he did. They thought it was a very good idea to get together, but nobody would do it.
Well, before night, he had gotten the point; somebody had to do it, So I said, "Well, now, why don't you, yourself, get the people together; go over and talk to somebody that has a central meeting place in mind and just get together and start off." That's the way you get things going; by doing it.31
A meeting place was decided upon, and Horton was invited but could not attend until the third meeting. By that time, they had perhaps 200 people meeting in the school in a relatively small rural community. They became interested in a milk cooperative, an idea being actively promoted by the agricultural extension agent. Horton sent them some pamphlets and put them in touch with a rural sociologist at the University of Tennessee: "one of the kind that learned to work in Highlander over the last few years, whom I could trust not to talk over their heads." The people were asked, "How many cows do you have? How much money do you have?" They hadn't thought of that. They just thought a milk cooperative was a good idea. The sociologist helped them draw a map of the community. Instead of sending out schedule takers, Horton encouraged the idea of "dozens of people getting data from each other. Many got acquainted for the first time." When they added up the cows there were not enough, so they decided to organize an adjacent community. "Well, after six months do you know what happened? They voted unanimously not to have a coop, but as a result of this survey, they had found out what their community was. They knew everyone there. There was about a half-dozen committees and I had thirty-six names of people who were potential or who would become community leaders in the process."
Now, projects are wonderful. You never run out of projects if the people are developed. It starts out very happy that these people are critical enough, analytical enough, to decide that they didn't want a co-op; that it would have been fatal; that they couldn't have sustained one. Well, in one community, they got electricity they hadn't had before. They got roads built they didn't have before. They got a new school building built. They got a community center built. A lot of things they hadn't set out to do, but they did [them].. .32
On another occasion, three women came to talk with him about how to use the community center the community had built. He suggested coming to a workshop at Highlander and then they could decide together. "Well," they said, "we were told that you could tell us what to do." I said, "I'm telling you.... I haven't the slightest idea what you should do. I'll probably never know. You will finally tell me sometime. I don't know, but you will work it out."33
They and many others did work it out. In a progress report to the Foundation, Horton commented:
There are frequent organizational meetings on community problems. Different groups have been brought together which include women. They succeeded in having feed-stuffs exempted from the Tennessee Retail Sales Act. The community led a general protest against repeated cutbacks of tobacco acreage allotments and favorable congressional action was received as a result. They resolved differences in hostilities which had blocked building necessary county roads. They helped to defeat legislation which would have resulted in loss of school funds. They developed committees for various problems and broke through their isolation to avail themselves of expert technological assistance from Knoxville and other adjacent sources. They succeeded in blocking premature organization of a milk cooperative and are now developing a firm foundation for such a project. In their study of cooperatives they learned to use outside experts and learned methods to be used in making a survey. The resulting survey involved substantial citizen participation out of which came a number of leaders. This issue resulted in leadership emerging through the process of action.
Quality of life today and its overall activities of community interest marks a great change from the general apathy of the past and the few narrow interest groups which previously operated with no concern or reference to the other people. The people in this community have achieved an identification with their area.34
These are no mean achievements. Others have tried elsewhere for similar results but have failed. As Horton pointed out in a letter to R J. Blakeley (March 26,1955), the obstacles in Sevier County (where Kodak was located) were great but a community of interests did emerge; persons came to the fore as recognized leaders and concrete changes occurred. And not least of all was the fact that for the first time, significant numbers of women and young people were beginning to assume leadership roles. Previously, they had taken little part in community affairs.
However, there was a further point to be noted. Until three women came to him to talk about how the community house should be used, he had not encouraged anyone from the community to come to a Highlander workshop. He wanted to know if this would make a difference. He concluded that it did because, compared with Johns Island, for example, the program broke down when imagination and courage were called for. They were limited to conventional solutions. Horton's perception of what was going on in the communities in which Highlander was working did not come as a revelation "on the road to Damascus." There was an evolution of method and of understanding, including a growing conviction as to the inappropriateness of other people's ideas about working with members of a community. His evaluation of what had occurred was, however, not always entirely correct. Commenting in 1956 on the Kodak, Tennessee, project at the end of the third year, he stated:
The changes which have resulted in Kodak, while not as dramatic, are of greater significance to the field of community organization than the developments on Johns Island. The problems, community structure and issues are more typical of those found in the conventional rural area.... this project involved universalities applicable to most of the South. The same cannot be said for Johns Island, where we have a segment of the population ... which is so far down in the economic and social scale that any community activity manifests itself dramatically.33
Some years later, his judgment was different. Horton commented that in his view there was one critical respect in which the Kodak project did not fulfill his hopes. It did not lead to further organizing. It did not spread beyond the initial area of Highlander-stimulated activity.36 This point underscores a decisive difference between the Kodak and Sea Islands projects. The simple, direct attack on illiteracy as a barrier to voter registration was to grow far beyond the hopes of anyone involved. Thereafter, the Johns Island program spread not only into the whole South but also grew in sophistication from voter registration to participation in precinct and party activity, to concern with qualifications of candidates, to gaining access to boards of voluntary community organizations, to becoming informed on issues through learning to read newspapers critically, and in other ways.
Why the difference? One basic reason was in how Horton started. In Kodak, he tried what others said would work--in effect going into a community and telling people that community development was a good thing. Fortunately, he found a person trusted in the community through whom to work. But in the Sea Islands, the idea of the citizenship school came from the people. In Kodak he urged people to do something because it was good for them, and it did not really take. In Kodak, the plant was an annual but in the Sea Islands it was a perennial. "If it is to work, the people must have the power of making decisions about what they want to do."37
If replication and spread of important activities and involvement of large numbers of people are valid tests, then the most significant part of our Highlander story concerns the educational efforts on the Sea Islands, which led ultimately to a citizenship education program throughout the South under the aegis of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Southeastern Georgia Voters Crusade and other civil rights organizations.
Background. The Sea Islands lie in a chain a short distance off the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. Johns Island, the largest, is about thirty-two miles long and thirty miles wide and is located some fifteen to twenty miles south of Charleston. Extending southward from Johns Island, are Wadmalaw, Edisto and Daufuskie islands. The population of Johns Island was over 6,000; the others, fewer. The black residents speak a Gullah dialect, which did not make Horton's initial contacts easier. There are more blacks than whites on these islands by a considerable margin. Many blacks own their own farms, and, indeed, in 1950 about 60 percent of the housing on Johns Island was owner-occupied.38 In addition, many residents went into Charleston to work in homes, in factories and at the Navy Yard. Even though both a black and a white high school existed on Johns Island, there was a high level of illiteracy, especially among older black residents. The median number of years of school completed was only 7.5 years in 1960.
The events which led to Highlander's involvement with Johns Island began with Anna Kelly's39 attendance in 1953 at a Highlander workshop on school desegregation. The following summer she persuaded Septima Clark to attend a similar workshop.
Clark brought to the workshop her long experience in working with and helping others. Also relevant is the fact that she had started her teaching career on Johns Island and later became a teacher in Charleston. She was involved in community affairs, playing an active part in forcing integration of the tuberculosis program in Charleston County. Participating in the fundraising campaign of her sorority to help finance diphtheria immunizations for children, she sought to have the children on Johns Island included. (Sixty-eight children on the island had died of diphtheria the year before.) Action was finally taken when the danger of the disease spreading, through domestic workers, to the city dwellers became apparent. Then the county health authorities took steps to provide temporary clinics at Haut Gap High School on the island.
At the 1954 Highlander workshop on the United Nations, Septima Clark described and gave the background of the health program: "We furnished the transportation, did the follow-up, helped with the registration, and in that way we were able to get the mothers to come out." These mothers with three or four young children each were unable to get to the Charleston County Health Center where they customarily held clinics because it was too far away. In short, the sorority did the job of mobilization in the community that the regular county health service had not done. 40
But Septima Clark wanted to know what could have been done to prevent the children's deaths the year before. "I just would like to know--how are you going to get these people to feeling as if they want to ask for something that is actually right? For example, there is a group of people living in the community with sixty-eight children who died of diphtheria, and nobody said anything about it, nobody asked for a nurse, nobody asked for a special clinic or anything of that type--what's wrong? How are you going to get them to think for themselves? "41 Discussion continued on what could be done. Clark wondered whether someone appointed by the governor would respond to pressure.
One of the group leaders responded:
an appointed officer is always put in office by the elected ones. The pressure is always felt. All these problems are practical, and the people who live there now know the practical aspects. . . . You've got a good high school. Well, that's the place to start. People come together, children come together in the high school. You invite the health commissioner, the county health commissioner, or whoever, to come and listen. Or to come and contribute. If he doesn't come, you put it in the form of a resolution. This place needs a mobile health clinic. Copy goes to the newspaper. That may not be very popular, but after that's done three times, everybody on Johns Island will certainly know that something needs to be done. And then you will get something done.... The first thing is that the people themselves must know what to do. And the way to know what to do is to get together .... 42
And so through the workshop discussion process, the range of possibilities was widened.
We must now become acquainted with Esau Jenkins, workshop participant, and a person with whom Septima Clark was to work closely.43 Esau Jenkins had been encouraged by Septima Clark to attend the residential workshop on the United Nations at Highlander in August 1954. Workshop discussion turned up the fact that he was president of the PTA, superintendent of the Methodist Sunday School, assistant pastor of his church, president of the Citizens Club (200 members concerned with community improvement and schools), chairman of the Progressive Club (fifteen members organized to provide financial assistance to those in need of legal aid) and a member of the executive board of the Charleston NAACP. In November of 1952, recognition had come to him in the form of a citation from Omega Psi Phi, on nomination of the Charleston chapter, awarded for "Political Action."
Furthermore, Jenkins was a self-made man. In spite of meager formal schooling, he had built up a bus line with four buses. Even the bus line is part of our story. "One of his passengers had asked him to help her learn to read and write so that she could get her voter registration certificate and become a `first class citizen.' Mr. Jenkins not only responded to her request, but secured and circulated copies of the South Carolina constitution and voting law among all his nonvoting passengers."44
In an interview in 1963, Jenkins said, "I would start for Charleston about 6:45 or 7:00 A.M. and arrive 7:30 to 7:45 A.M. for those going to work at 8:00. Those starting at 9:00 A.M. would stay on the bus. While driving, I would talk about definitions of words in the constitution of South Carolina, procedures relating to voting and voter registration. After arrival, we would hold class. Before registration days, we would do this two or three days per week."45 But memorizing sections of the state constitution, while it helped a few to register, was no substitute for learning to read. This goal he could not reach.
Finding a Way to Work Together. In discussing Jenkins' participation in the 1954 Highlander workshop, Aimee Horton noted:
Esau Jenkins and several other Sea islands participants provided one complex of problems for the workshop agenda: the complexities involved in arousing and inspiring some 2,000 Negroes (on Johns Island), isolated, psychologically as well as physically, from changes in the nation, in the South, and even in nearby Charleston. These people were dominated, still, by the plantation world of their parents, a world where government, school, jobs, everything that controlled Negro life belonged to the white man. How to convince people of their rights to better schools and health services? Of their rights to vote for those schools and services? Of their rights to vote for those schools and services by voting for officials to represent their interests? Of their rights, in fact, to vote, to be citizens?46
Toward the end of the week's workshop, discussion turned to what each participant intended to do when he returned to his community. Jenkins' concerns were summarized in a Highlander report:
The week's workshop stimulated Esau's interest in developing more political action on the island by finding and interesting more people in getting the Negro population registered. Esau planned to run for trustee on the Board of Education, "not that there is any hope of getting elected," Esau said, "but I want to prove that a Negro can run for office and not get killed.”47
To introduce Highlander staff to the island, Jenkins invited them to attend a NAACP-sponsored dinner given in Charleston for Judge Waring and Thurgood Marshall, on November 6, 1954. (Judge J. Waties Waring, member of an old Charleston family, had handed down the decision outlawing exclusion of blacks from Democratic party primaries.) Zilphia Horton accepted Jenkins' invitation to attend as well as his invitation to stay at his home that weekend. "The purpose of this trip was to further investigate Esau's possibilities as a potential trainee for democratic leadership under the ESF grant, to learn more about Johns Island as a possible demonstration community and to establish friendly contacts."48 On the basis of her report, it was decided that "Johns Island had good possibilities as a demonstration community."
In the following month (December), Horton and a staff member attended a meeting of the Citizens Club49 on Johns Island. In addition to Jenkins, two other participants in Highlander Workshops, Septima Clark and Anna Kelly, were present. Myles Horton, when asked to "speak," tried to engage the group in general discussion, but with meager success. Evidently, the traditional meeting pattern was too strong. In the next few days, Horton also met with several black leaders who were active politically in Charleston and on Johns Island. It became clear they needed to know more about the political situation, and, perhaps more important, there were too few people to undertake the individual contacts needed to build a political base. But Jenkins was either unable to grasp or unwilling to respond to Highlander's offer to help him develop such a group of leaders.
Eventually it was Jenkins' decision to run for school trustee that provided the incentive for blacks on Johns Island to register. To run for school trustee, it was necessary to get 100 signatures. That he was able to get them demonstrated not only the support he had but also the willingness of his neighbors to put themselves on record in behalf of what might become a dangerous enterprise. His strategy of trying to get a group of blacks to register each month throughout the year maintained the momentum. By spreading registration efforts over the year, there would be less chance of alarming whites on the island .50 Jenkins lost by only 100 votes, but he got 192 out of the 200 black votes. Fifty voters registered between January and the election; only 200 had registered in the preceding ten years. More important, Jenkins had appointed a committee to promote registration. An organizational structure was beginning to grow.
Several months later, Myles Horton commented on the Citizens Club:
From conversations Esau holds with the people as he goes about the island, it is obvious that the monthly meetings of the Citizens Club provide a general adult education program. Everything is discussed, although the focal point is citizenship and registration: farm problems, school problems, health and world affairs. . . . Judging from the conversations I overheard, these problems are discussed long after the meetings are held. It had been almost three weeks since the last meeting and people were still discussing things that had been talked about at the last meeting51
Having decided that Highlander might make a significant contribution on Johns Island, the question was how best to proceed. Local leadership would have to take the responsibility, but for Highlander to play a role, someone on the staff would have to be familiar with what was going on.
The file then records an important event: "Arranged [in February 1955] with Septima ... , to make reports on Johns Island."52 Horton noted:
I told her that I hoped to have some funds to carry on the work during the summer, but in order to get the money we need to have some reports. I asked her to dig back in her memory and try to get down some of the things she did in connection with Esau and also to get some bench marks starting at the time that she started working with Esau or at the time he came to Highlander. . . . At that point I told her we would all work together until we decided what information we wanted....53
Horton continued to make visits to Johns Island through 1955. At first, he could not understand more than half of the Gullah dialect and could get only surface impressions. "I had to naturalize myself into the situation to feel comfortable and free. [He was applying Professor Robert Park's principle concerning the importance of involvement in the situation as vital to understanding.] Then they could be comfortable and free and I could start to learn. It was a gestation period."54
But there were other reasons for moving slowly. There were differing perceptions of the problem. Esau Jenkins seemed to feel that getting blacks into public office was all that was needed, that black voters would solve black problems. Horton felt that this view was too superficial. A more fundamental change was needed which depended not only on making good the right to vote but also on raising the level of sophistication with which the suffrage was exercised. It was only later, as Jenkins became involved in the civil rights movement with greater understanding and effectiveness, that he began to see the broader implications of voter registration.55 And it took time before Horton and Clark could develop a basis for working together effectively. "The first year was a year of dialog between us."56
It took time also for an effective working relationship between Highlander and Esau Jenkins to develop. On Jenkins' side was his conviction that a public meeting was an occasion for a speaker rather than involvement of those in attendance in a discussion. In this view he was probably responding to the expectations of the audience: only after members of the community had begun to share in leadership tasks and had become aware of new possibilities were they likely to have much to contribute to a discussion. Horton's frustration over Jenkins' manner of dealing with a problem came from something more than a belief in the value of discussion. He felt he could help Jenkins in other ways: suggesting tactics and strategy in dealing with the power structure, indicating tasks needing to be done which others could do even while learning.
When Horton suggested, however, that these others might do more, Jenkins did not respond.
I found it difficult to get the idea across to him that we might be of some help working in the background. Every time I suggested working with him he started talking about meetings. He did warm up to the idea of bringing the tape recorder along and letting some of the leaders listen to the workshop discussions at Highlander. . . . I suggested that we might work with the committee members and some of the other political leaders on the island or combine such a workshop with the political leaders of Charleston. He said he wanted to talk this over with other people but is definitely interested in some sort of follow-up.... The idea of a leadership training program is meaningless but he can think in terms of getting people active... He thinks entirely in terms of speaking.57
On the other hand, Horton was not altogether clear about how to proceed. And noting his own disappointment about the difficulty of establishing a more functional working relationship with Jenkins he pointed out that Jenkins did not immediately grasp the idea of lieutenants or sub-leaders who could take responsibility and act on their own--not in competition with but in support of his own efforts. One difficulty may have been that although Horton was beginning to talk about specifics ("getting people active"), he was also continuing to use words (for example, "leadership training program") which may have been too abstract.
Horton felt, too, that he had to remain in the background, that it was important that there be black models for the black community. The time had come for white people to stand aside.58 Septima Clark pointed up a different aspect of the matter when she said, "Knowing that the students of the school were still living in the shadow of the plantation, the teachers had suggested to Myles Horton that white visitors be kept to a minimum for the first three years. By the end of that time, we felt that the fear of losing jobs and other harassments would be out of their minds."59 At the same time, Horton believed a "good political action program on Johns Island would set a pattern for Charleston as well as other islands, and might be the basis for a continuous program there for a number of years."60 Given the rather low opinion Charleston blacks held of Sea Island blacks, this was a brave conclusion.
It was Horton's growing conviction that the Sea Islands would provide a good opportunity to test Highlander's approach to the objectives of the citizenship project. Reporting on a March 6, 1955, visit, he said: "Visited other Sea Islands including St. Helena, Edisto and Wadmalaw. . . . After interviewing a few of the people from the area, I decided that the chain of Sea Islands ... had problems similar to those of Johns Island, which would give our project value as a pilot project."61 He also saw that a successful program could make a significant contribution to the development of a black power base in the "low country" area of South Carolina.62
However, Jenkins could see that he would need help if voter registration were to increase, and he appointed a person in each of the fifteen church congregations to be responsible for reminding members of the Citizens Club meetings. He was also asking persons "to instruct people in how to register, interest them in the importance of voting and actually carry them to the place of registration...63
There was some evidence that progress was being made toward the objectives of leadership development. A letter from Jenkins to Horton, dated April 28, 1955, stated: "My ideas of community leadership have changed in many ways. I have found that giving others something to do in helping make better citizens in the community is very important. My old way of doing was slow. 64
Broadening the Leadership Base. In the summer of 1955, Septima Clark accepted an offer to serve in the Charleston and Sea Islands area as a Highlander staff member during the summer months when she was not teaching school.65 During the spring and summer of that year, leadership was very much on the minds of both Myles Horton and Septima Clark. Horton expressed his concept of leadership when he said: "There are underdeveloped but not `good' or `bad' leaders. We start with people as they are. If a person functions as a leader or is thought of by his neighbors as a spokesman for them, he has a potentiality for democratic leadership. Often the role in which a person finds himself, develops his latent abilities and reshapes his attitude."66
During the spring of 1955, Septima Clark talked with Esau Jenkins about how he might involve others. Regarding training and new leaders, she thought it important for him to put the people to work who have registered, particularly those who have gone out and gotten other people to register.
"Nothing has been done," she said, "but to give them recognition." She will work with Esau on some program for them regardless of how indirectly it may affect the registering and voting program. She understands the importance of giving people jobs to do. [He went on to note:} Plans for meeting Saturday night: The main purpose of the meeting will be to get Esau to understand that developing new leaders, supplements rather than conflicts with his program .... 67
In talking with Clark about how to get Jenkins to grasp the possibilities, Horton reminded her of how she had organized her grade school teaching by using the more advanced pupils to teach the others. And she responded by giving comparable examples from her work with church groups.68
On March 19, 1955, when Myles and Zilphia Horton, Septima Clark and Esau Jenkins met to discuss plans, they used the opportunity to try to develop further Jenkins' abilities as a leader. Before the meeting, Clark tried to develop a method or style through conversations with him. Her method was primarily to ask questions. "What happened to Perry after he registered?" Jenkins replied, "I said, `Go back and get others.' " Further questions brought out the fact that Jenkins had bought copies of various black newspapers and given them to four men to report on at the meeting. She asked, "What did you do when these people came in and reported?" He said, "I told them to go out and get two more people registered. . . ." He seemed to have a fixation on registration of voters and could see the need for more help to get this done, but he had not yet grasped the importance of having more people doing different things to a common end.69
At the March 19 meeting, Clark tried to emphasize the opportunities for broadening participation as problems were aired:
When the question came up of how many school-age children were on the island, talk turned to the possibility of a house-to-house survey. Septima mentioned men who had been her students at one time and thought they would help. Esau's response was that his daughter who was a school teacher could probably get the information. Septima pointed out that ... all the help possible would be needed to get sufficient votes to elect a Negro to the school board. Esau responded favorably, mentioning a number of other people. (Septima is still trying to convince Esau that she knows what she is talking about here and has a genuine interest in the island.)
He ended up by inviting Septima and me to help out in any way we could and said he hoped to send some young people from Reverend Washington's church to Highlander this summer. Septima suggested two other people who might come and said she would try to help pay their expenses in return for what Highlander had done for her.70
On another occasion, Clark underscored the need to involve every segment of the community, even those who made bootleg whiskey.
Some years later, Horton and Clark were recalling the period when they were trying to get Jenkins to see how to broaden the leadership base. Horton remembered that Clark had been talking about reaching every part of the community, socially as well as geographically:
We work with the natural leaders. That, Esau learned. We sat here at Highlander and drew a map of Johns Island. I said, "Esau, you've got to get the votes on Johns Island. Who do you have in this community? Who do you have in this one, who do you get in this one?" He didn't have anyone. And I said, "When you go back, get somebody in this community--find somebody." He said, "There are no leaders there." And I said, "There's a leader anywhere in relation to the people in their community, a neighborhood leader. You go back and find your leaders, and send them up here for a Highlander workshop."
People came to Highlander from six different sections of Johns Island. Then Esau was in a position to work with those people on an Island-wide basis, and that's when he started moving, Leaders on other islands said to him, "What is it that you have that we don't?" And then Esau was able to pass on these ideas. That's how it's spreading. Not spreading by Esau going and doing it on those other islands, but Esau is kind of a symbol of the effective way to do things.
Just like people come to Highlander and ask us for help, they come to Esau and say, "Will you come over and speak, hold a meeting, organize us?" Esau says to them, "No, that's not the way." But before he came to Highlander, he would have said that's the way. In fact, that's what he did. He was trying to do it all himself. Now he says, "Look. We've started these adult schools. We've started monthly meetings. We start these weekend conferences. We've sent people to Highlander. This is how it's done. I'll help you to do it that way. But I won't come in and do it for you because it's no good." He tells them at the very beginning the thing that most people spend a lifetime never learning. He uses what he learned: the Highlander method of involving other people.
He's training other people, and they, in turn, are beginning to do likewise. This thing is relatively simple when you start analyzing it, but it's relatively unused as a method of working with people. 71
Over the following months, Septima Clark continued to report on Johns Island activities. Some entries from these reports follow:
A report of a special meeting called on May 29, 1955, at the Methodist Center on Johns Island indicated its purpose had been to discuss the need for Negroes to organize and get registered and learn how to spend money more wisely. There were over 163 men and approximately 100 women present. "When invited to ask questions, there was not a question asked. I think the next thing to do is to get those tongues loosened up." Mrs. Clark also commented: "It is astounding to see so many young men following, and it gives me much hope. The island is going to lead in citizenry. It is way ahead of the city now. These people meet regularly the year round." 72
After a Citizens Club meeting on June 6, 1955, she noted: "Twenty-eight more persons registered since the previous meeting."
Sometimes ground seemed to be lost. In a report on a Citizens Club meeting on September 6, 1955, Septima commented: "There is still a lack of participation by the group. There were no group or committee reports and Esau will talk too long. He says that he has to talk when he can catch the people. Some of the people got angry and walked out."
The minutes of the Citizens Club on Johns Island for September 1955 show that people were returning from Highlander to give reports and were showing greater interest in community involvement. The people who attended Highlander workshops appeared to become a central core group. By the middle of 1956, twenty leaders on Johns Island had participated in a workshop.
Expanding Activity. In October 1955 a planning meeting was held in Charleston to prepare for a series of five one-day workshops to be held on different islands in Charleston County. Horton commented on the discussion:
The enthusiasm with which the people present agreed to assume responsibility is an indication that the leadership training program has produced results. Such a response would have been impossible earlier. There is already an understanding on the part of the people that they can involve potential leaders in local situations. All, however, feel it is necessary for people to get a more intensive training experience before they can become the kind of leaders who can be counted on to stand up against opposition.
He was especially gratified with the initiative shown by the group and their recognition of the need to involve at least one person from each island in future planning sessions. His decision not to take part in the initial planning sessions was vindicated, but there was some disappointment: "I had hoped that we could develop people in their own communities to the place where they could assume responsibility without the residential experience, but so far there is little indication that this can be done successfully." 73
At a subsequent meeting, held to plan a workshop for the Charleston area, a participant said: "What we have in mind is a whole day or afternoon meeting, with groups discussing such things as the health problem in the community, the potential strength that can be developed through the PTA, and the importance of voting, rather than someone getting up and speaking and then sitting down. The workshop angle. ..."74 This was some evidence that the idea of a "speaker" was losing force.
But, still, Horton found it necessary to stress local involvement. He pointed out that "whatever you want to do ... you need more people to understand what you are doing. You don't need to decide now what the solution will be because you aren't in a position to carry anything out. You don't have enough people with you. Maybe the people who are going to help carry out this thing need to be in on the planning."75 And at another point, he said:
If we find that people [from other communities] are hesitant about workshops, we can invite them to visit one and decide for themselves. We don't have anything to sell; it's a service that in some cases has been helpful and in other cases we are not so sure. Let's plan here for three [communities] we are going to have. That's the way we move ahead.76
The final decision about content was that each workshop would have subgroups on consumer cooperatives, housing and voting. The workshops were to have taken place in January of 1956, but that had to be given up because the school district refused to allow the use of a school for the meeting. Also, a demonstration voting machine [was not] forthcoming. The workshops were rescheduled for February.
In the course of the sessions, Horton was convinced anew about the value of using audiovisual materials which could be related to participant experiences. The movie showing people from Johns Island at a Highlander workshop was especially useful.
People were excited to see themselves and others they knew.... Because it was not part of the movie, the commentary was personalized and perhaps added to the feeling that the movie was concerned specifically with the people in the audience and their problems. It also illustrated the necessity for the kind of inspiration and training in a residential setup which we have so far not been able to duplicate in the field.77
Learning to Read. Through 1955, Horton kept thinking about what could be done about the question Esau Jenkins had raised at the 1954 workshop: "Could Highlander help him to teach more people to read than he could reach on the bus?" Jenkins kept pushing for help. He wanted help on registration. He wanted a school. He was so impressed with Highlander that he expected it to provide something right away. If a conventional approach had been offered, he would have accepted it.
Horton read up on literacy programs which had been conducted elsewhere. He inquired about what had been done previously on the island. Clark, too, had been thinking about a school for adults. The need became obvious to her when she found that parents were unable to give the birth dates of their children during the diphtheria inoculation campaign. And the people themselves had talked about it. Beginning in 1954, there were several unsuccessful attempts to find a classroom: the Methodist Center, a house, a church, the high school.78
Horton discovered that adult education funds were largely unspent because students did not enroll. The school supervisor said the failure to attend was because they did not want to learn. "But Esau had gotten them to want to learn. So how can you get more people to want to? Why did Esau's people want to read? So they could vote. The reason was specific and immediate. I saw, 'This was it.' They wouldn't go back to regular school with regular teachers and sit in children's seats. Therefore, we needed lay persons to teach and a different place to meet."79 Furthermore, learning the alphabet and how to read was an immediately available achievement; it was not necessary to wait a long time to gain the benefits. And literacy could open new possibilities for expansion of the civil rights program.80
Horton had no specific method in mind but knew that Clark had taught literacy during the war. Even though her approach should prove to be a trifle old-fashioned, he "didn't care about that." He was more concerned "about the fact that Septima cared and would keep pushing it." And her sense of the need to keep the program practical would more than make up for any weaknesses in method. He recalled: "I tried to think through what I had learned on the island. I role-played it in my mind to see how it might come out. I take an idea that comes from the situation and try to think through a program that fits it."81 This time, certainly, he thought even better than he could have hoped.
Looking back, in 1974, Horton commented that it was Clark who with Bernice Robinson as the teacher developed the Citizenship School program. She was in charge. If he had suggestions he made them to her. "Other than the original analysis of the Johns Island situation, a guess that a nontraditional and non-threatening physical setup was necessary, and nonacademic teachers were required, the burden fell on Septima."82
In the latter part of 1956, two developments went forward simultaneously on Johns Island. Jenkins had been thinking about a building to house a kind of cooperative supply enterprise. He tried to buy an old school from the county but was outbid by a white man. Later, Highlander was able to lend the money to acquire the same building (at a profit, of course, to the first purchaser). This was paid off at the rate of $100 per month from earnings of the cooperative store and from contributions--a very substantial achievement for so poor a community.83
In November 1956, the Progressive Club was planning to establish an adult school, but after considerable delay they were turned down by the school superintendent (who, presumably, was afraid of losing his job), and when they tried to get the use of a church center, that was denied them too. (The minister's wife was teaching in the public school system and was probably afraid she would lose her job if the center were so used.) Jenkins then suggested the use of the old school building for the adult school.
In discussing the adult school, Jenkins later said, "I believe it was providential that we didn't get those other schools because our teaching would have been limited to certain things, and certain things we couldn't have said, such as teach them how to become better citizens, how to take part in voting, civics and government, and what not, because of being afraid of somebody going to run us out of the building."84 Nor would Clark have been happy depending upon the public adult school. "Let's don't ... get a teacher who will follow the usual teaching procedures.... Let's ... get someone with a fresh viewpoint, somebody who will work with us, who is interested in the Highlander program and would be willing to follow suggestions from the school."85 At last, Esau Jenkins was beginning to see the realization of a dream--the possibility of blacks registering, not because they had memorized some paragraphs but because they had learned to read.
Writing some years later, Clark said, "The [Highlander] school had lent us money without interest to obtain the school building, the school had agreed to provide other funds with which to pay modest expenses, including Bernice's transportation, and to furnish material, equipment and supplies. And just as important--perhaps more important--was the promise that Highlander would permit members of its staff to supervise the school's program and operation."86
The "Bernice" referred to was Bernice Robinson, Clark's cousin and a beautician in Charleston. She was also active in the NAACP in Charleston. She had been encouraged by Clark to attend the Highlander United Nations workshop at which Esau Jenkins had expressed his wish to get an adult school started there. But when asked to be the teacher, she demurred at first because even though she had been helping Jenkins on Johns Island and in Charleston, she didn't think she could succeed, lacking any training as a teacher. But both she and Clark knew that it would not work if a white person sent by Highlander were to be the teacher. And she recalled that while still in elementary school, she had held sessions for other children during the summer months.
It did not take her long to find out the approach had to be from the adult level. She recalled the first citizenship class meeting on Johns Island in January 1957:
1 entered that class armed only with materials I had secured from two of my sister-in-laws who were teaching in the public schools, grades 1 through 3, which I found out immediately was too elementary to present to adults. I knew then I would have to build a curriculum that would meet their expressed needs. I secured an original money order and traced it on onion skin paper, then on to chart board, making enough copies for all students to practice upon. I used order blanks from catalogs to teach and meet that specified need. Esau had an original copy of the application for voter registration, but the printing was so fine, I had Highlander to reproduce it in larger type by stencil cutting and mimeographing. Later I hand-printed the application on chart board and tacked it on the classroom wall. These things I had to plan and prepare myself since I was unable to have the expertise of Septima because she was out West fundraising for Highlander during the time the first class became operative. She wasn't able to get down to Johns Island until the last two weeks of the project. I had her to teach the session that night because I wanted to see whether her approach was anything similar to mine. To my surprise she presented the lessons in the, same manner as I had been doing. I had written on the blackboard those difficult and unusual words found on the application blank for voter registration, supplied the definitions of each so that the students would understand what they were reading, also breaking them down in syllables for easier pronunciation. 87
The methods used were not complicated. At Clark's suggestion, each student learned to write his own name by tracing the cardboard example prepared by the teacher. The methods were effective because the students were learning what they most wanted to know. "And perhaps the greatest single thing it accomplishes is the enabling of a man to raise his head a little higher; knowing how to sign their names, many of those men and women told me after they had learned, made them feel different. Suddenly they had become a part of the community; they were on their way toward first-class citizenship."88
Because the students were adults and wanted to read for reasons important to them, Clark prepared special reading materials: laws and regulations relating to voting, social security and taxes:
I remember going to the school board office to inquire about laws relating to the duties and functions of the board.... And then I took this information . . . and rewrote it in simple, easily comprehensible words. My purpose, of course, was not only to teach them how to read and write, but to teach them at the same time things they would have to know in order to start on their way to becoming first-class citizens.89
Later, each student was provided with a mimeographed booklet called "My Reading Booklet."90 In it was information about Highlander; a brief statement about the meaning of the United States of America; a statement of the registration law and requirements for the particular state in which the schools were to he held; a short resume of information pertaining to political parties in the state; a section on taxes and procedures for paying them; an explanation of social security; an explanation of health services available, and the locations of clinics; the form of address when writing to public officials; and a money order blank along with instructions on how to fill it out.
One elderly woman, who worked as a cleaning woman in a white farmer's home, learned:
to read and write well; in fact, she read a story at one of the school closings. She is also able to do simple arithmetic and serves acceptably as clerk at our Progressive Club and takes care of the sales there from one weekend to another. . . . So the adult school has been of incalculable benefit to her, not only in helping her get a better paying job, but ... in lifting her to a happier plane of life as a literate citizen. 91
At the first class meeting, twelve out of fourteen persons could not read or write at all. The teacher made a chart of the alphabet and illustrated each letter with a picture of fruits, vegetables and items from their own homes. She used flash cards of words related to their life. She then had those who could read, however haltingly, read simple stories aloud to the class, and they discussed these stories. Words the reader had stumbled over became the words for spelling lessons. Recruiters for classes never embarrassed anyone by asking about that person's own literacy, but always about "a friend" who could not read or write.
The first school had run two nights per week, two hours per night, for two months; the second school for three months. At the Johns Island citizenship school closing on February 26, 1958, all twenty-six adults who had attended for five months and were eligible to vote were "able to read the required paragraph at sight and sign their name in cursive writing to obtain their registration certificate."92 That this effort succeeded where previous efforts on Johns Island had failed was due in part to the fact that this was their own program--directed to keenly felt needs, taught by people they knew and trusted, and which they had helped to plan from the beginning.
All of this was done in spite of, rather than with the cooperation of, the public school. But beyond the factor of persistence, the spirit in which the students were treated was of the utmost importance. In Clark's words:
We treat these people as adults and give them very challenging responsibilities. We say, "It is your responsibility to be a citizen, in the fullest sense of the word, even though you don't read or write. Even though you are a Negro on an isolated island, you have . . . this responsibility." And then they say, "How can we exercise these responsibilities when we are not allowed to vote? We're segregated, and uneducated." And then we say, "You'll have to find a way to become citizens of South Carolina and of the world and we will help you." ... We challenge something that seems to be important. We use local people they know as a teacher, so there won't be a problem of adjusting to an unfamiliar person.... So you have a combination of a strong challenge, and local people with whom they are familiar, doing the teaching, 93
These, then, were elements essential to the success of a specific citizenship class. But what became of broader significance was the fact that a program emerged for developing and maintaining citizenship classes. Here the critical elements were: (1) bringing potential leaders and teachers to Highlander for a workshop. In addition to learning how to organize and run a class, it was necessary to win the leaders' confidence in Highlander's sincerity; (2) recruiting lay teachers (mostly) who were willing to give their services for a modest honorarium of fifty dollars for the course; (3) developing materials appropriate to the students; and (4) providing supervision and support for the lay teachers. 94
Evidence of Growing Political Power. The year 1958 was critical for the voter registration effort in South Carolina because every voter would be required to re-register (registration being valid for a ten-year period). When the people on Johns Island learned that the registrars were being more rigid than they had been, they organized monthly meetings, on re-registration. They reviewed the application blank and made sure that everyone understood it and could read it. As a result, not a single person who had attended the school the year before and up to the time of re-registration failed to pass. Over 600 blacks on Johns Island were re-registered that year.95 The voting rate was nearly 100 percent.
For blacks, nevertheless, it was a continuing struggle against obstacles. Myles Horton and Septima Clark described their trouble in getting copies of the South Carolina statutes. Book dealers refused to sell them to "Negroes," yet without these books, they were having great difficulty discovering what the legal options or requirements might be. For example, payment of taxes above a certain amount was an optional way of qualifying to register, but registrars were not so informing applicants. They finally managed to get twelve copies of the statutes through the help of a lawyer in Virginia.
Slowly, an increased awareness and sense of confidence was beginning to have an effect. In a meeting at her home in Charleston, Clark commented on Johns Island, "They were able to put in a magistrate over there who has been just, using the law as it should be, not giving any special favors at all, but being fair." Jenkins replied:
Well, he wasn't that way when he was elected. At that time, we didn't have enough Negroes voting. . . . If two colored persons went into the court, he was fair enough, but not against a white person. I could see his point of view. Self-preservation is the first law of nature, and if the white folks voted him there I couldn't see him going against them, unless he had a little bit of money. But I told them, when we organized a Progressive Club, that we were going to have to do some voting to be recognized on the island.... And they began to see that and that's why we started up this registration and organized a club, and after we started voting more heavily, then the magistrate began to think that some day they might vote enough to vote me out so I better be kind of nice.
What really made the magistrate change according to Jenkins was that three people decided to run against him. By sending a white man to jail for contempt of court when the white man tried to prevent a black from testifying, he got the support of the blacks and his margin of victory was approximately equal to the number of blacks who voted.96 Emphasis on registration and voting was a constant theme, By 1963, there were 800 registered voters on Johns Island, about 30 percent of the eligible adults.
Soon, other political initiatives were being taken. Conversations were held with the leadership of political groups in South Carolina such as the South Carolina Political Action Committee (which emphasized black registration and voting) and the Palmetto State Voters Association (which took the further step of recommending candidates). The entire membership of the Progressive Club of Johns Island joined the Palmetto State Voters Association. Arrangements were made for Highlander workshops which members of these political organizations were encouraged to attend.97
These conversations indicated further the way in which the Highlander-supported program, emphasizing literacy education tied to voter registration, was moving onto a wider stage, offering an effective outlet to political stirrings in black communities in the South. The steady proliferation of the program was beginning to provide eloquent testimony to the value and significance of the Highlander concept of education for citizenship. As statewide political organizations were formed the Highlander program provided support by training leaders who began to work within these organizations, as well as through workshops cosponsored by the organizations.
But pending the success of these efforts, other tactics, such as a threat to demand desegregation of the white high school were found to provide useful leverage. At a PTA meeting on Johns Island on January 5, 1958, Esau Jenkins asked the principal if the superintendent had responded to a letter about a business course for children in high school. The principal said, "No, [but] I don't think we need the setup here." Jenkins: "You think our children are dumber than the children on the other islands?" Principal: "No, but we are far behind." Jenkins "This was the first high school built from the sales tax, and you have been in charge since it started. You and your teachers must have failed to do good work if these children can't enter a business course." The teachers, one by one, got up and recited their qualifications and tried, but failed, to insult Jenkins. Elijah "Buddy" Freeman entered the discussion saying: "Esau is right. We have more colored landowners on this island than on the other islands. We are taxpayers and demand those rights for our children." The teachers then said: "Can you judge us? You are limited in your education." Freeman: "No, but if you say we are too backward to get more courses and that our children can't take it, something is wrong with your training." Jenkins: "We mean to ask for a business course for our children with a teacher . . . who has been trained in that special field and no makeshift. If we are refused, we will send our children wanting that teaching to register at St. John [the white high school] . If they refuse them, we will take the case to court. We are tired of being abused, and we are not asking teachers to do one thing but stay out of the way. Now you can go tell [the superintendent] I say so and all the other parents who want it. Show your hands, parents. Very well, that's enough said." A petition was drawn up and sent to the superintendent. Two weeks later, the principal sent for Jenkins. A room had been fitted for the commercial course. The new teacher was introduced.98
The incident reveals the importance of courage and determination on the part of community leaders through citizens club meetings, citizenship classes and Highlander workshops to gain benefits which were reasonable but which were denied them, not only by the white power structure but also by the black school staff. The staff's antagonism probably reflected not only concern for their own jobs but also an effort to establish their own distance from less well-educated blacks. The Highlander-supported program of literacy education combined with voter registration and community-leader development was beginning to show tangible results.
Spreading the Citizenship Education Program to Other Islands
From the beginning of the ESF project, Myles Horton had been concerned with the need to develop the program so that it might spread throughout the South. During the second three-year grant period (beginning in 1956), the success of the citizenship school and accompanying voter registration efforts became evident. Toward the end of 1958, Horton began to see more clearly the potential in the Sea Island literacy schools and year-round citizenship education pattern as developed by the people themselves. He wrote:
I can think of no faster or more effective way to bring about integration than to assist Negroes in a program of their own making. They stay excited about what they are doing because they are doing it. Part of the pattern is becoming clear. With an experimental project we could soon determine what elements in their program could be adapted to other Southern communities.99
Criteria for Expansion. It was not Highlander's intention, however, to move into whatever situation offered itself. First, certain guiding criteria must be met: "Is the need urgent universally throughout the South? Is this an educational concern in which we can educate leaders who will lead the community to constructive action rather than try to burn up our energies in organizing the community action ourselves? Is this a concern of adults, with whom we are chartered to work? Is this an effort which will bring people to residential sessions at Highlander?" The latter point was critical because, in Horton's experience, "a person who has been to a Highlander session at Highlander is several times more effective than a person with whom a Highlander staff person has worked only in his own community. There is something about the experience of living and working together and being closely associated without outside distractions for a period of days or weeks which heightens the educational process."100
The Sea Islands certainly seemed to offer an obvious next step. Following his visit there, Horton reported:
Each island has a preponderance of Negro population and it is the determination of the Negro people to push through to integration that will determine the outcome of the current social crisis. Each island . . . encourages its population to think of itself as a "community." Each island is located not too far from a city, making it possible for an educated people to relate themselves to the community registration and voting programs and the public school integration or bus integration efforts of the townspeople, who seem to initiate and spearhead social movements in this period of history. Further, and of significance, is the fact that most of the inhabitants of these islands are economically independent--that is, they own their own land or are small businessmen--and not subject to losing their jobs and livelihoods if they speak out or act for integration which may be unpalatable to bosses or employers.
By encouraging the people of Johns Island, who have been to Highlander and who have received education and inspiration through the adult school there, to reach out to .. . the islands to the south of them, the Johns Island project will move forward in quality and in depth of understanding of the people connected with it. Education . . . mushrooms when the students of one area become teachers in another. Students may gain enough understanding to guide their own actions constructively but need to gain an even deeper understanding of the principles involved and inevitably do so--when they move out to teach others.101
The opportunity came in the spring of 1958. Clark and Jenkins were invited by a resident of Wadmalaw Island (who had attended a meeting of the Progressive Club on Johns Island and seen the Highlander movie on integration) to hold a meeting there. Before the date set, Jenkins met with a few interested community people and encouraged them to organize a group. Some 200 people came to the meeting, which encouraged Jenkins very much. His efforts since 1955 to get something started had at last met with success. "Many promised to come with him to Highlander in June and July."102
Soon interest was expressed by others. Between December 1, 1958, and February 26, 1959, four citizenship schools were held: on Edisto Island, Wadmalaw Island, Johns Island and in North Charleston. One hundred and six persons were enrolled, ranging in age from fifteen to seventy-six. Sixty certificates were given for perfect attendance. Of the enrollees, fifty-six were registered to vote.103 Of the remainder, thirty registered before the end of school. In addition, six one-week residential programs were held on Johns Island. They dealt with cooperatives, driver education, social security, today's cash crops, income taxes and health services. 104
Out of the first citizenship school on Wadmalaw Island in 1958 came organization of the Board of Concerned Members of Wadmalaw Island. The board celebrated its fifteenth anniversary on March 18, 1973. In 1958, there were no registered black voters on the island; fifteen years later there were over a thousand. A black woman became a member of the precinct executive committee, which supported the candidacy of a white legislator. Through his efforts they got legislation to send school buses down side roads, to have mail delivered to individual boxes, and to establish three day care centers. Most important, many women were for the first time becoming involved in civic affairs."105
At a meeting on St. Helena, Esau Jenkins told the audience that it was necessary to work on voting the year-around. He advised them to appoint a committee on registration and voting with a leader from each community and to offer a reward to the one getting the largest number to be registered. He suggested they check each member's certificate number and keep a record of it and that they work with those needing help in reading and writing, Above all, they were to take no money from any candidate to get voters to the polls but only to use money from their club.106
It should be noted that the full range of activity which Jenkins had started did not spread in its entirety to other islands. "But the citizenship school was easy to grasp and was relatively non-threatening.... The beauty of it was that after two or three. months in a citizenship school, the educational process had raised their sights, disclosed new possibilities."107 Other programs related to the franchise could then be started.
On Edisto Island, one outcome was the "each-man-get-a-man" campaign. "Every man in the school agreed to make apt effort to get another man to qualify and register and . . . at the end of the first month of their school, the teacher took nine of them to Charleston to take the qualifying tests, and seven of the nine passed and had their names added to the rolls of voters.""' Even after the schools closed with the beginning of farm work, monthly meetings were held to study the laws relating to registration and voting and to consider candidates and issues on the sample ballots for forthcoming elections. An important adjunct to the teaching methods was the introduction of films which described voting procedures and the meaning of an election and enumerated and described human rights.
The "Final Report of the Edisto Adult School for 1959-1960" shows that the adult citizenship school met from November 3 to March 4 with forty-seven enrolled, ranging in age from twenty-one to seventy-two. Their schooling ranged from none to eighth grade. Subjects included reading, writing, arithmetic, citizenship, sewing and some handwork, Along with reading and writing went letter-writing and the Bible; along with citizenship went history of our country and "progress of the Negro." "The music in the singing school . . . helped in many ways. It added more spirit and interest to the work.... It also helped people to take their minds off of themselves and center them more on one another and the goal toward which we are working."109 About one hundred blacks were registered on Edisto of whom about eighty registered through the adult school.
Addressing a Highlander staff member attending a meeting on Edisto, a resident said:
You heard the expressions in our skit. They wrote out their own notes first and then they worked together in groups of four to pool their ideas, thus giving them some experience in group work.
Adults who give such fine cooperation and are willing to improve themselves, to share with others, are great potential leaders in their community. Many were afraid to come to the school. Some were ashamed to admit what they did not know. Some were afraid of losing their jobs. But little by little they are catching on and expressing regret that they did not come but will come next time.110
There was fear, but they persisted. It has been suggested that several factors may have produced a more aggressive spirit in the Sea Islands. Blacks were a majority of the population. Many were longtime landowners. The very isolation of the Sea Islands populations may have encouraged a greater feeling of independence among blacks than was the case elsewhere in the South. Some had participated in successful strikes in the fishing and oyster industries. And there was evidence, too, of memories of a time following Reconstruction when family members had held the franchise."
And so the slow process of building political sophistication went on. As Septima Clark pointed out, blacks were speaking better, beginning to read other materials, becoming more willing to take places on committees, to serve as poll-watchers or as secretaries of voters' leagues. 112 A letter from Myles Horton to Adolph Hirsch noted:
we have just ended a workshop on Johns Island which brought together people who have been receiving training in the program over the past few years. In addition to the interest in community development and citizenship education, there was a persistent demand for literacy schools. It seemed that through the Schwarzhaupt program we have awakened interest among the Negroes in that area in learning to read. This winter we will have two or three literacy schools going in that area. In every case they will be organized and taught by people trained in the Schwarzhaupt program. In fact, the developments are of such a nature that Mrs. Septima Clark and one of the other people here at Highlander have arranged to spend the next four months in the area.113
But the achievements were not easily won. Much staff effort was required. On one trip, for example, Septima Clark reported that on a Monday evening she attended a meeting of the Johns Island Citizens Committee and showed three films. On Tuesday, she visited a nursery school, a cooperative store, a community store and called at the homes of two residents. At each place, she distributed literature and told of Highlander's work. On Wednesday, there was a public luncheon meeting at which Esau Jenkins outlined what must be done in working with voters. That evening she attended the closing session of the Johns Island citizenship school (all twenty-six students eligible to vote were successful in registering). The week closed with further visits to surrounding islands to meet people and tell them about Highlander and encourage attendance at its workshops."114
In the fall of 1958, a former Highlander workshop student was able to bring together 400 people at a meeting in Charleston Heights. Fifteen of those in attendance were former Highlander students. Represented were people from nearly a dozen localities. The program began with the presentation of a report by a group from the Kodak project in East Tennessee with slides and pictures of the work that they had done in community improvement. The second part of the program was concerned with registration and voting: difficulties, restrictions, problems of apathy and the need for voter education. The movie on Highlander workshops was also shown. The former Highlander student who was president of the organization sponsoring the meeting hoped to have a thousand names on the registration books in that neighborhood by November. "Then she plans to appoint a committee to ask the commissioner on street improvement to improve the streets in that area." 115
In 1959, classes were held in a rented house on James Island (adjacent to Charleston) with students coming from other islands. Discussions covered cooperatives, drivers' education, voting and registration. When asked why reading and writing were not taught at public adult schools, Septima Clark replied, "The state will not allow people to have anything on registration and voting in their schools. You can't teach citizenship training. They are afraid the Negroes will learn too many facts .... "116 In spite of difficulties, the citizenship work went on, and the additional effort was productive. Horton commented the following spring that promotion of the program was no longer necessary; demands were far outrunning Highlander's capacity to respond. The possibilities seemed limitless, but the scope would go far beyond what Highlander could or would want to administer.
Influence on the Charleston Community. One of the significant results of the initial work on Johns Island was the impact it had on developments in Charleston. At a meeting in which the first citizenship school on Johns Island was discussed, Esau Jenkins said that the school had played a significant part. "We have had quite a few times people from Charleston to come into that school and small as it might seem, it was doing something that Charleston don't have, Charleston not doing. We not only teach them about reading and writing, but we talk about civic things." This is especially significant because Charleston blacks tended to look down on Johns Island blacks in a "Can any good come out of Nazareth?" spirit. But good did come. For instance, a Charleston beautician wanted to do something about unpaved streets in her neighborhood, but realized voter registration was the key. She offered her shop as a meeting place if Bernice Robinson would conduct a literacy class, and this was done.117 Later on, Robinson organized a coaching staff for the Voters' Crusade. They schooled voters in going to the polls, in reading the sample ballot and in reading from the South Carolina statutes. "This was her own idea, not part of the established program." 118
At one point, Myles Horton referred to his awareness of the substantial number of Johns Island residents who worked in Charleston:
While we were intellectually aware of this fact and accepted the functional interrelationship between Charleston and the adjoining region to Johns Island, we nevertheless proceeded to operate on the conventional community approach of using only the people on Johns Island. We soon reached limitations where the local leadership just did not have the technical skill which was necessary to carry through particular projects.
Although our only motivation was to bring technical advice to the local leaders, we found ourselves entering into a whole new area which we believe is of fundamental importance. While there has always been a recognition of the functional interrelationships of rural communities and their adjacent urban areas, nevertheless, we have found ourselves actually working with the people of both communities. The technical know-how, skills and personnel from Charleston have been indispensable to the actual achievement of the full potentialities of the Johns Island organization to date.
It becomes clear that in this kind of working relationship, a whole reservoir of technical assistance, of leadership, of guidance advisors, etc., become available to the hinterland. For this process to take place there must be: (1) the actual organization in the underprivileged communities so that people are shaken out of their lethargy and so that they get confidence in themselves and in each other. (2) Once having created the vehicle or organization you are now prepared to make the bridge of confidence and acceptance on the part of the people in the underprivileged community with the circumstances created by the community organization itself.'"
The technical help covered a range of subjects. Persons were invited to meetings for discussion of the political situation in the county and the state or to provide information on the employment situation, union organizing, governmental and community agency services, etc.
The first Charleston resident to begin providing assistance on Johns Island was Septima Clark, and, subsequently, Bernice Robinson became a teacher of citizenship classes organized on the island. Still later, Esau Jenkins began to have a significant impact on the Charleston community. Writing in 1958, Horton reported that Jenkins and Clark had met with key leaders in Charleston to work out a block campaign to register voters with a view to doubling the number from 5,000 to 10,000 for the next election. A black candidate was running for statewide office for the first time. "The pattern was originally set by Esau in his own county."120 In the sixties, a new generation of leaders emerged from Jenkins' programs on the island and elsewhere and took over more militant causes such as the strike to organize hospital health workers in Charleston. The rural-urban relationship became a two-way street.
In his summary report written in 1969, Herman Blake wrote:
It is no longer possible to speak of the citizenship program in terms of the Sea Islands only . . . for the program has reached out to embrace the entire county of Charleston, and its impact is felt statewide since Charleston is the largest county in South Carolina. Esau Jenkins is now president of the Citizens Committee of Charleston County, an organization which is affiliated with SCLC and has at least 500 members. It is an umbrella organization for the local civic clubs, with affiliates on Johns Island, Edisto Island, Wadmalaw Island and in Adams Run. They are trying to organize affiliates in other parts of the county, and a similar umbrella organization in every county in South Carolina.... The Citizens Committee has a permanent office in Charleston and places its major emphasis upon four issues. (1) Social Services: Every attempt is made to see that young people and their families get the proper social and health attention. They supply clothes to the needy to make it possible for them to go to school, and they stand ready to assist any family at any time. (2) Voter Registration: Between 1957 and 1967, 18,000 Negroes were added to the voter rolls in the county. This is particularly significant in view of the fact that they all had to come to the county seat on the two days per month when the registration books were open (Charleston County is 132 miles long and about 30 miles wide). As a result of their efforts it is now possible for people to register any day of the year, and in the evenings, at fire stations and similar public locations in their own communities. As of April 1967, Negroes constituted 38 percent of all registered voters in the county. With a growing two-party system splitting the white vote, the Negroes now control the balance of power in the county--particularly since a higher proportion of the registered Negroes vote than do registered whites. The work of the Citizens Committee resulted in the election of a Negro, St. Julian Devine, as alderman for the city of Charleston in June 1967. He is the first Negro elected to public office in Charleston since Reconstruction. (3) School Integration: In all of their meetings and otherwise the Citizens Committee pushes for the integration of the schools, urging young people to select the high schools they feel will be best for them and apply for entrance. Public schools in the Charleston area have been desegregated for only three years or so. A major activity at the present time is the integration of faculty, and this is being pushed diligently. They are now trying to get federal funds cut off to any school district that does not integrate its faculty. They feel that faculty integration will enhance student integration. (4) Credit Union: This is the newest venture of the Citizens Committee and one which will have a profound impact and effect on the population in a short time. It is the first time that nonprofessional people in Charleston County have a credit union available to them. They engage in a strong program of consumer education and make loans up to $700.00 to members. The credit union was chartered in September 1966 and by August 1967 had 223 members with $9,000 in savings and $6,000 in loans.
I attended a meeting of the Johns Island affiliate of the Citizens Committee in August 1967. In a driving rainstorm at least 75 persons attended. At that meeting, a Reverend Goodwin, a former student of Septima Clark, urged the people to register and join the credit union. He pointed out that in his church and other churches as well, all the church officers are required to become registered voters. Bernice Robinson, the main speaker, did an excellent job of explaining the credit union.... She also pointed out that as the credit union grew, they would be able to make larger loans so that people could make even greater use of it. At the meeting they enrolled twenty-six new members in the Citizens Committee and sold credit union shares amounting to $171.50.
To get an independent view of the impact of the ESF project, I talked with Mr. Herbert Fielding, the leading Negro funeral director in Charles ton and the president of the Political Action Committee, an organization affiliated with the Democratic party. Mr. Fielding was unequivocal in his praise for the project and saw it as the key to the change in Charleston County. He first became involved in the local political scene after returning to Charleston from the army in the early 50's. Esau Jenkins and others asked him to run for the House of Representatives in 1952 as a part of an effort to spur the registration of Negro voters. He agreed to do so and ran along with two other Negroes. Their efforts were directed toward getting Negroes registered, and their success in doing so was primarily due to Esau's efforts. Although they lost the election ("we were not shamefully defeated"), they began the process of voter registration in earnest. At that time between five and six thousand Negroes were registered in Charleston County, most of them in the city. In six weeks they more than doubled the city registration.
He felt that there were two barriers to registration at that time, the indifference on the part of the Negroes who saw voting as the white man's business (this included all levels of the Negro community), and the strong opposition to Negro registration on the part of the board of registration and the local newspaper. The indifference was overcome by Esau's persistence. All of those in the program learned a lot from watching him. His folksy way of dealing with the people and understanding their point of view turned the tide in even the most discouraging circumstances. Esau's effectiveness has been increased by his education in leadership and the success of the programs they initiated. 121
Even in the early sixties, black votes became a factor on the state level in South Carolina. In 1963, Governor Hollings took a strong stand against school integration. He then ran for the Senate against black opposition and lost, the first time such a thing had happened to a South Carolina governor. Charleston County is the largest county in South Carolina, and Esau Jenkins was the organizer of the black vote in that county, which Hollings did not carry. Reaching the point, however, where black voting power could play a decisive role in a statewide election was a slow process. Important in this connection were the residential workshops initiated at the Sea Islands Center on Johns Island in 1963. These workshops, focusing on political action, were a direct outgrowth of the citizenship classes started in January 1957 on Johns Island.
Expansion Beyond the Sea Islands
By 1958, the feasibility of the citizenship school idea had been amply established on the Sea Islands. But would the idea work elsewhere? To find out, Septima Clark went to Huntsville, Alabama, in the fall of 1960 and recruited teachers for and from the community. "Huntsville represented a leap, both in distance and cultural difference from the Sea Islands. But experienced teachers from the Sea Islands and nearby were used as trainers. And it worked."122 It worked, but not exactly in the same way. An important difference from the experience in the Sea Islands was that ministers took an active part--some because they wanted to learn to read and write themselves.
I was at the minister's meeting Saturday. Got there a little late but in time to hear what Reverend Snodgrass had to say about the classes. He explained the matter of what he wanted each minister to do and what he thought of their putting forth special effort to see to it they, as well as their flock, take advantage of the classes.
One preacher wanted to know if reading and writing was going to be taught, he was glad for the "Yes" answer. I think that he wants that for himself. I believe that you have hit the nail on the head and it will only take some hard driving to get it to go in.”123
Yet, in another way, the beginning was the same. It started with a woman who had opened her home to neglected black children and whose work had been brought to Highlander's attention. Invited to a workshop on social needs and social resources at Highlander in March 1960, she came with a carload of men and women from her community. She brought four others to a workshop in May, three in June, three in July, and three to the August workshop.
In July, Clark and the Reverend S. S. Seay, a member of the Highlander executive council, were invited to a countywide mass meeting in Huntsville, called by the newly formed Madison County Voters League. Its purpose was to get a black to run as a candidate in the September election. Reverend Seay was shocked to note that they were starting as late as July 31 to put up a candidate for a September 19 election. He felt that none of them knew anything about the government of their city or even how to preside at a meeting. The league president worked hard on registration day hauling people, but other members failed to appear. Several blacks were not allowed to register because they could not read or write. No records had been kept of those who had registered. The league president then asked Highlander for help, and, together, plans were made including setting up citizenship classes in both Huntsville and the county.
In September, Clark met with former Highlander students in Madison County and worked with the president of the league to find what the people wanted and needed. It was decided to offer a course in Huntsville on leadership training and to offer two classes in the county on fundamental and literacy education. These were scheduled to begin October 4, 1960. It was at this point that the ministers began to push the program. Between October 1960 and the end of February 1961, five classes were set up in Madison County with a combined enrollment of l15, of whom eighty-six registered to vote. By 1960, citizenship education efforts were also underway in several other areas, particularly in West Tennessee; Southeastern Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; in South Carolina; and, of course, at Highlander itself-with significant results. Support for these efforts continued to be given by Highlander, but with increasing difficulty as a result of attacks on Highlander by the state of Tennessee through the courts (see footnote 1 in this chapter). The fact that it worked in communities like Huntsville helped to persuade the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to embark on its own citizenship education program. And so Highlander ideas (as developed by its staff working with local leaders) were beginning to interact on an increasing scale with the rising expectations of blacks in the South. These expectations involved several well-known elements, the first of which was the move toward school integration. We have seen that when Septima Clark had brought Esau Jenkins to a United Nations workshop in 1954, he found in the discussions inspiration and guidance for his ambition to increase registration and voting on Johns Island. The citizenship education efforts which ensued there provided a ready opening for Highlander to pursue the objectives of the ESF-financed project concerned with developing community leaders. This new thrust constituted the second element--the element of community leadership training and citizenship development which provides the principal focus for this report.
The third element, which provided still another purpose for Highlander was, of course, the civil rights movement. It was following her attendance at a Highlander workshop, in 1955, that Rosa Parks precipitated the Montgomery bus boycott. This led eventually to a whole series of workshops for community adults and for students concerned with the philosophy and tactics of nonviolent direct action. "The Highlander workshop (April 1960) was followed, two weeks later, by a second South-wide meeting, involving the same student leaders, to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)."124
Training Citizenship Teachers for Other Organizations
Interest in the citizenship education program continued to mount and led inevitably to a shift in Highlander's role from direct supervision of schools in the field to the training of volunteer teachers recruited by other organizations throughout the South. But in the meantime trouble was brewing for Highlander: segregationist elements were determined to close the school. On July 31, 1959, there was a raid by Tennessee police officers, and the school was charged with selling commercial products (beer, razor blades, etc.) without a license, and with violating segregation laws. In fact, these items had been made available on an informal, revolving-fund basis for the convenience of those students who would not have been served in local stores.
In April 1961, the Tennessee State Supreme Court issued its decision upholding the lower court's order that the school was in violation of the segregation and business licensing laws and should be closed.125 In September 1961, the school's main building was padlocked by the district attorney general for Grundy County. Highlander's charter was revoked and its property (valued at $136,000) was confiscated, including the director's home. Speaking to a workshop group on this move, Myles Horton commented, "you can padlock a building, but you can't padlock an idea. Highlander is an idea. . . . You can't kill it and you can't close it."126 Later in the same year, Highlander applied for a new charter under the name of Highlander Research and Educational Center. This was granted on August 28, 1961, and soon its educational activities were again going forward in an old house in Knoxville.127
Decision to Decentralize. Highlander was not entirely unprepared for the closing of the school. It had already seen the need to delegate responsibility for the citizenship and leader training program to other organizations. This was, at least in part, because it did not wish to create the large administrative structure which would be needed to manage a much larger program spread out over the South. It encouraged other groups, therefore, to disseminate the idea. In December 1960, Myles Horton wrote to a group of organizations in the South inviting them to make use of the citizenship education program. He stated, in part:
Highlander's educational resources are available for the use of any agency or organization which shares its view about the need for citizenship schools, and its convictions about learning and action.... It is prepared to receive supervisors and teachers sent by any one of these agencies, and to hold workshops in which these people will be trained for organizing and conducting citizenship schools in their local communities128
The training was designed, first:
To help the teachers learn how to define the special needs of their own communities, and second, how to present the text material which is available. Supervisors will be helped (1) to recognize the different needs in different communities under their supervision, (2) to judge the level of citizenship experience among the students, (3) to organize and administer schools and coordinate schools in the area and (4) to supervise teachers, 129
Training Workshop: January 1961. Among the organizations responding to this offer were the Southeastern Georgia Voters Crusade; Chatham County Voters Crusade (Savannah, Georgia); Madison County Civic League (Huntsville, Alabama); Citizens' Committee of Charleston County (South Carolina) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.130 As a result, in January 1961, an experimental workshop was held at Highlander to test a curriculum for supervisors and teachers of adult schools and to take a first step in offering the citizenship school idea on a South-wide basis.131
The training workshop began with a discussion of motivation and recruiting students for a citizenship school. The relationship between motivation to read, and the wish to register, vote and become a first-class citizen was stressed. Content was related to purpose within the learning process. And the fact that recruiting had to be done face to face was emphasized. "Students must be assured that lack of formal education is a misfortune and not a disgrace and that it is possible to learn, even after they are adults." 132 The following day's discussion dealt with the need to go beyond achieving the vote, as well as the necessity for everyone to do his part as a member of the community. At the end, Myles Horton summarized the goals of the schools: their involvement was not only with many specific purposes but also with the concepts of what is and what ought to be.
When you teach a student, you think of his present limitations and you try to help him with those. But you think also of what he can become, and it is ill terms of that, rather than the way he is now, that you treat him. This is what I mean by respecting human dignity.
You yourselves, as teachers and leaders, incorporate in every small thing you teach your students to do, the values that lead people to look toward the "ought to be." I think that's the genius of our program.133
Two workshop sessions were then devoted to demonstrations and discussions of teaching method, including how to deal with students at different literacy levels. Attention was also given to such practical matters as when and where to schedule classes, how to use films or an outside speaker, record keeping and recruiting. (In the week-long version of the training workshop, a session was devoted to the relation of the citizenship school to its community and how the adult students could be helped to take part in community work.)
The next-to-last session was devoted to discussion of a follow-up questionnaire to be completed by trainees six months after completion of the training workshops. The purpose was to discover what difference the citizenship school taught by the trainee had made with respect to civic activity, quality of voting and improvement in social relationships in the community. The questionnaire consisted of four items about problems encountered and six topic areas relating to long-range effects on students. Information was requested with respect to problems in getting started (recruiting, finding a meeting place, ordering supplies, community opposition); operating problems (keeping records, grouping students according to ability, presenting text material); and interpersonal problems with coworkers.
The other questions required follow-up by the citizenship school teacher with each student six months after the close of the class. Representative questions were: Did the student register? If not, was literacy the problem? If registered, did he vote? Did he vote a straight ticket or try to choose the individuals he wanted to vote for? Did he get others to vote? If so, how many? How did he get them to vote? What other civic action did he participate in (signing petitions, attending community meetings, serving on committees)? How has he become more effective in community action? By joining organizations? By holding office? Has he contributed service or money to charitable causes (for example, blood bank)? Significant here is the indication that the goal of the program was achievement of a rather sophisticated level of civic activity. The sights had been raised far above Esau Jenkins' first citizenship school, the "school on the bus." The final workshop session was devoted to relating the citizenship schools to what was happening to blacks in the South.
Training teachers only was, of course, not enough; supervisors were needed
whose responsibility would be to oversee the efforts of perhaps ten teachers
and to help
recruit students for classes, arrange places for schools to meet, organize the schools in his area, help the teacher decide upon material and equipment and the quantities needed, to advise teachers on class programs and community activities, to visit classes and supervise the work of the teachers, to coordinate the work of the area, to plan the time of the year with the teacher (seasons when students are least busy on jobs are best). 134
To prepare them for these tasks, they were to take part, with their teachers, in the training workshops and the weekend refresher course. Undertaking such responsibilities was in itself an education for civic competence.
The significance of the workshop, in Highlander's view, was twofold: (1) It marked a shift in role from experimentation, sponsorship and supervision to the training of leadership for other groups; and (2) Other organizations were encouraged to initiate citizenship education under their own auspices, sending teachers to Highlander for training. The plan was simple. The organizations were to recruit and send teachers to Highlander for a week of training. Those who were trained then organized and taught classes in their home communities. After five to six weeks, they returned to Highlander for a weekend refresher course. The whole process depended upon rapid action, effective performance and nominal cost, These, then, were the elements of the program which was to be set up in many communities, especially in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and West Tennessee and to a lesser extent in other Southern states.
Southeastern Crusade for Voters League. Of the several areas in which the citizenship idea took root and flourished, one of the most significant was Southeastern Georgia. In the fall of 1959, Bernice Robinson spoke at a mass meeting in Savannah about Highlander's work. In April 1960, the Chatham County Crusade for Voters League was organized with Hosea Williams as chairman. The league ran a campaign for registration every Sunday and supported the sit-in demonstrations by picketing and engaging in selective buying, but their need was for more leadership rooted in the community. Eleven of their members were sent to Highlander workshops on voting and registration, political education and community development.135 They became part of the leadership base which, with the assistance of Septima Clark and Bernice Robinson, led to thirty citizenship schools being organized between September and December 1960.
Although Highlander's ability to furnish financial assistance had been severely curtailed because of efforts by the state of Tennessee to revoke the Highlander charter, it was arranged that Bernice Robinson would go to Savannah to meet with Hosea Williams and his teachers. In addition, Clark and Robinson wrote to Williams committing Highlander's support for a refresher course for the teachers in his Southeastern Crusade Program, to be held at Dorchester Center in June.
In the spring of 1961, Highlander forwarded an application for $11,503 to the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation on behalf of the Southeastern Georgia Crusade for Voters which was trying to prepare citizens to register in a nine-county area. Of the 77,400 blacks eligible to register in these counties, only 16,350 were registered at the time. And many of these had registered in Savannah only a short time before. Blacks were in the majority in two of the nine counties and accounted for more than 38 percent in six others. The Foundation granted $5,000 in May, and an additional $6,503 in June 1961, to finance additional teacher training for citizenship classes.
The outgrowth of the original experiment which you supported is a change in our role. This adult education concept is now passed from the experimental, pilot stage to a second stage where we are now servicing any local or South-wide organization which wishes to participate in the program by offering teacher training. Rather than a limited experiment with members of our own staff directly supervising and providing financial support for citizenship schools, these schools are now being financed and supervised by organizations participating in the program.
Cooperating organizations take care of all expenses in the field and pay for the residential training of supervisors and teachers at Highlander. In most instances, the organizations have already taken steps to finance the actual classes in the field and will in time be bearing a major cost of the expense of the program.
Unlike the SCLC and some of the more established organizations, the Southeastern Georgia Crusade for Voters has no source of funds, but they are anxious to provide the necessary time and direction on a volunteer basis for the program. Up to the present time we have been able to bring in several people from this area on the budgets of other groups. Seventeen teachers have already been trained and are now back in their counties working. This has only intensified the demand for the training of more teachers by Highlander.
We are presenting their appeal for funds to finance the initiation of the program in these counties. This would enable them to send teachers to Highlander for training. . . . We feel that their activity establishes an entirely new pattern which should be encouraged, for it is one which could be used not only in other parts of the South but also in Latin America and Africa.136
The cost for each participant was to be nominal. Thus, it was expected that a charge of eight to ten dollars per person for a three months' class would pay for all the costs of the program if a class met twice a week and consisted of thirty persons. This estimate included the cost of training the teacher, the educational materials used in the classes and all other expenses involved in the conduct of the class.
Through citizenship schools and with help from Clark and Robinson, some 9,000 blacks were registered in Savannah, Georgia, between September and December 1960. These gains were partly due to new tactics. One such tactic was to station a worker at the courthouse on the days when tax payments were due. When black citizens came to pay their taxes, they were encouraged by the worker to go to the voter registration office at the same time. As a result, the political power base of the black community was growing rapidly.
In September 1961, the Southeastern Georgia Crusade for Voters became an affiliate of SCLC. Organizing work continued with a view to establishing a crusade in each county for the following purposes: (1) to get every eligible citizen registered, (2) to get all registered voters to vote in every election, (3) to interview all candidates, (4) to keep a daily record on all public issues and officials and to make this record available to the general public, (5) to operate adult citizenship schools for those who wanted to become first-class citizens, (6) to foster direct-action programs against segregation, and (7) to coordinate the political efforts of all individuals and organizations. Commenting on the impact of the citizenship classes, Hosea Williams, then supervisor of the SCLC Citizenship Education Project (CEP) for the Southeastern Georgia First Congressional District, wrote: "This program still is the most effective instrument to gain equality." He stressed that its effectiveness depended upon its grassroots character because churches and government agencies had been unsuccessful in their efforts to achieve significant results. In one twelve-month period, twenty-seven five-week schools had been conducted with 540 students. Of these,400 had been turned away previously by voter registrars. Of the 400, 325 subsequently were registered. He reported: "Our twenty-seven adult citizenship schools played a very important part in registering 13,000 new voters throughout the First District."
The problem of trained leadership, "traditionally our primary problem, is now second to programming."137 This is further evidence of the power of education in the service of an action goal to meet a strongly felt social need. A summary report on a "get out the vote" campaign in Southeastern Georgia over a three-year period (1959-1962) records that 221 citizenship school teachers were trained and a total of 42,100 blacks registered.
As time went on political gains began to be translated into economic and social gains. For example, through efforts of the Chatham County Crusade, laborers in city departments were promoted to foremen and detectives to sergeants, blacks gained appointment to city commissions, and their numbers in the Savannah police department increased from seventeen to thirty.138 Myles Horton later said that Williams grasped from the very beginning the importance of developing leaders. The citizenship schools were a means to this end as well as to the goal of voter registration. There was no limit to the work which new leaders could undertake.139 Clark pointed out additional evidence of Williams' insight into the citizenship organizing process, saying that he saw that training activity must be followed up, and he provided for such follow-up in the eighteen counties for which he took responsibility. To anticipate our story a bit, she contrasted this with the SCLC program elsewhere in which "lack of follow-up was the great weakness. . . . But King never absorbed the lesson of what it took to make the citizenship education program work."140 Highlander continually emphasized that what was learned in the citizenship school must also be practiced in the community.
SCLC and Citizenship Schools. In 1959, Septima Clark had described the citizenship school program to Martin Luther King, Jr., and had shown him the manual developed for the citizenship schools on Johns Island. He was not responsive, in part because there would be a problem about funding. Because the SCLC did not have tax-exempt status, foundations could not contribute to it directly. But more important, perhaps, was the heavy involvement of the SCLC in demonstrations and similar tactics. In the meantime, Clark tried the Johns Island citizenship school approach in Savannah, Georgia; Huntsville, Alabama; and Somerville, Tennessee, and as we have seen, found that it worked there too., 41
When Clark approached King again, he still did not feel that SCLC could take on such a project. He was finally moved to take action, however, when he had to acknowledge the force of Clark's argument that after demonstrations in community after community, there was no tangible result. No oppressive laws were taken off the books; no power was gained by blacks. Citizenship classes, on the other hand, did lead to voter registration; potentially, they could do so on a large scale. So, in spite of his initial misgivings, King sent a memorandum to a large mailing list in 1960, inviting individuals to come forward to be trained as teachers in a leadership training program emphasizing literacy and citizenship. The memorandum stated:
Through Myles Horton and Septima Clark, professional educators, a method to train individuals . . . was developed and tested for a period exceeding five years. This program was designed to equip persons for citizenship starting with the teaching of reading and writing in order to become registered to vote. The addition and inclusion of other areas of training took place as the need presented itself. The complete success of this training method . . . has met fully and successfully the objectives and requirements. It is the good fortune of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to have been offered the use of this educational program in the development of its activities and social action. . . . SCLC has accepted the invitation . . . and considers its unique advantages in filling the need for developing new leadership . . . and providing the broad educational base for the population at large through the establishment of citizenship schools conducted by these new leaders throughout the South. 142
This program became known as the Citizenship Education Project (CEP).
The initial discussions with King had been on the basis that training workshops would be held at Highlander for teachers to be recruited and utilized by SCLC. (Some 435 persons had been trained at Highlander before SCLC set up its own program.) The Reverend Andrew Young 143 was about to move to Highlander to manage the program when Highlander's legal problems suggested the desirability of his being based (with SCLC) at Atlanta instead. Shortly thereafter, in July 1961, Septima Clark joined the SCLC staff as director of workshops.
In mid-1961, Myles Horton reported to members of the executive council of Highlander that the staff had unanimously agreed that Highlander should turn over the citizenship program to a citizenship school committee which would be responsible for administering, promoting, coordinating and raising funds for the citizenship school program. The Citizenship School Committee (CSC) members were James Wood, administrative assistant to Martin Luther King, Jr.; Herman Long, American Missionary Association; Myles Horton; and the Reverend Andrew J. Young, executive secretary, CSC. Bernice Robinson was to continue working for Highlander, but Septima Clark would have her salary and expenses paid from funds supplied to the SCLC project by the Field Foundation and would be working under the direction of SCLC. Arrangements were made for the American Missionary Association to take responsibility for administering the Field Foundation grant. From that point on, Highlander referred requests for citizenship schools to SCLC and in addition helped SCLC raise funds for the CEP.
Highlander's Service to Other Organizations. While SCLC was undertaking to adapt Highlander citizenship training to its own program, Highlander was continuing to offer its own training workshops for citizenship school teachers and supervisors on behalf of other groups across the South. Workshops were also being offered by Highlander for community leaders on the use of the ballot and on choosing and helping candidates. Between January and June 1961, eighty-eight teachers came to Highlander for training. They returned to forty communities in the South and organized classes with an enrollment of over 1,500 adults.144
Highlander's community leader training programs spread rather rapidly beginning about 1959 and were having a highly significant impact. Although no comprehensive tabulation of Highlander's accomplishments has been made, enough can be said to give some sense of their scope. We know that between 1953 and 1961, 218 training programs were held under Highlander auspices with a total enrollment of 8,903. (See Table 4.1.)
Table 4.1. Highlander Folk School Programs and Enrollments, 1953-1961
|Workshops||Residential Programsa||Enrollment||Extension Programs||Enrollmentb||Total Programs||Enrollment|
Citizenship workshops (voter registration and community leadership, one week each)
a. The residential programs were held at Highlander.
b. The 129 extension programs (i.e., programs held in the same period but not on Highlander premises) were concentrated in only four states and were distributed as follows: Alabama (5 communities including Montgomery), 16; Georgia (Atlanta, Savannah and S.E. Georgia), 30; South Carolina (8 communities: Charleston, Columbia and the Sea Islands), 37; and Tennessee (10 communities/areas: Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville, Kodak, West Tennessee), 45. Highlander estimated that there was an average participation or enrollment of thirty-five persons, which would represent a total of over 4,500.
It would not be appropriate to try to summarize here the history of these citizenship education activities in the sixties. To do so would carry the story well beyond the period during which they were supported by this foundation. But it is, I think, legitimate to indicate something of the extent of replication of the initial effort which took place. And it is also appropriate to indicate changes made which tended to compromise the program.
The student workshops held at Highlander, in which the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was involved, led James Forman, executive secretary of SNCC, to ask Highlander to conduct further workshops at its new location in Knoxville. The intent was to help move SNCC away from an exclusive emphasis on direct action toward a broader program of voter registration and education to be conducted in Mississippi especially. In furtherance of this goal, Bernice Robinson, who had become extension director for Highlander after Septima Clark joined the SCLC Citizenship Education Program, agreed to go to Mississippi to set up follow-up workshops for SNCC and to Louisiana for CORE.145 (For most of 1962, Septima Clark also lived and worked in Mississippi.)
Bernice Robinson reported that the Mississippi Adult Education Committee was planning a series of workshops because of the need to train many more students. But holding workshops in Mississippi was difficult and dangerous. Dozens of SNCC workers were given two-month jail sentences on conviction of helping someone to register. Beatings by police added to the agony. But in a mock election in the fall of 1963, 83,000 blacks cast "freedom ballots." This was significant in that it served to refute the claim that voter registration was useless on the ground that blacks would not vote even though they were registered. In November, Forman wrote Horton to say, "There is no question in my mind that the increasing effectiveness of our program is due in part to these workshops."146
Bernice Robinson urged, therefore, that Highlander conduct a workshop in Knoxville on techniques of conducting a voter education workshop. "Leaders from various communities in Mississippi would be brought in and trained.... The people with whom I talked were interested in attending the workshop at Mt. Beulah, but fear of reprisals and intimidation from the whites prohibited them. This fear is real, not imaginary.147 To persist in the face of such tactics took great courage and deep commitment to the goal of helping others become fully participating citizens. Her report from Cleveland, Mississippi, on a voter registration workshop held in March 1963 illustrates the careful attention to detail which was required. To prepare for the workshop, she had held a training session with all of the staff workers on techniques of approach. They covered information on voter eligibility, went over the forms to be used and role-played how to approach people.
The workshop itself involved the forty participants in the same tasks plus much more. There was a session on record keeping for food distribution staff because these same records were also used in the voter registration campaign. Canvassers met to set up necessary committees. They were trained in reporting their trips to the courthouse to register voters, on utilizing the information brought in and on conducting proper follow-up. There was a session with the speakers bureau to plan how to keep people informed on the on-going campaign.
On Wednesday Morning Robinson met with the committee on area assignments to discuss the techniques of canvassing and the importance of concentration on one area until it was completely covered. She also met with the newsletter team on the techniques of keeping the public informed of how well the campaign was going and on the procedures to follow at the courthouse. In the late afternoon, there was a comprehensive session with canvassers, discussing problems met in the field and role-playing some of the problems. And at 7:30 P.M., she was back at the citizenship class at Shaw. This was fatiguing, draining work, but making it even worse was the violence directed against the workers and the threat of even worse.
Robinson concluded her report to Horton by saying:
Sorry I didn't get you when I called. I was afraid that you might have heard of the incident that happened in Greenwood or see it on television and get a little concerned about us, and I wanted you to know that we were alright. Of course, we didn't sleep at all that night because the calls kept coming in to Amzie's house from everywhere, telling us about the burning down of the [voter registration campaign] office. Very few records were saved. But it seems to have stepped up the Movement more. They had a mass meeting tonight and although I didn't attend because of the Shaw class, Marion attended and said that the church was filled to an overflowing capacity. So we go on with the work as though nothing has happened.148
Her next report dealt with more training sessions for voter registration workers and with the jailing of those who attempted to register. There were always twenty or more at each of these sessions for canvassers and follow-up teams. On April 7, she met with a group in Ruleville whose members organized themselves to reactivate their drive. Robinson reported:
The two weeks since our meeting, sixty-three persons have been contacted, and thirty-three have attempted to register. Citizenship classes are being held here by a Dorchester-trained person. ...149 I note with pride, how former students of Highlander workshops are heading up committees and taking over sessions, with little help from me.150
In a subsequent report she stated:
Forty-five persons from twelve communities in Mississippi and Tennessee participated in the second Mississippi workshop June 17-22 [19631. Six persons who were returning from the Sea Islands workshop were beaten after they were arrested for seeking service in a Mississippi Trailways lunchroom. As soon as they were released, they came to take part in the Mississippi workshops. There is strong resistance everywhere, but participants felt that there was much that they could do now that they had not known how to do before attending this workshop. (The June 24-29 workshop session opened with sixty-seven present from fifteen Mississippi communities.)151
The program continued to expand, workshops being offered for the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO-combining SNCC, CORE, SCLC and NAACP) in Mississippi. The results were so manifest that James Forman, executive secretary of SNCC, expressed his regret that similar workshops had not been held in other states as an essential concomitant of the SNCC program.152
The details on meetings and workshops are included only in part for their own sake. Beyond this, they document the work and energy required if the Citizenship Education Program were to succeed. A further drain on energy, of course, was the ever-present threat of violence. To be a staff person in such a program required a total commitment.
Other developments provided further evidence of widening involvement in the political process, including training SNCC staff to conduct their own workshops, COFO's 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project (Freedom Schools, community centers, a voter registration campaign, involvement of law students), and a workshop in December 1964 for the Freedom Democratic party in Mississippi and its counterparts in Georgia and Arkansas.153
But the understanding of and the willingness to apply Highlander principles were often absent. Septima Clark noted and commented on a statement by a COFO worker to the effect that the idea that people could provide their own leadership was unsound, that when the summer volunteers and COFO workers left, a vacuum remained. She agreed that a vacuum was left, but said it was due to the failure of the trainers to develop local leadership. "To work yourself out of a job means more than doing things for people, then leaving them to do things for themselves. The process of developing local leadership is much more difficult and time-consuming than most people realize."154
In West Tennessee, too, work was under way as a result of efforts by a faculty member of Lane College, who had brought several students to the Highlander workshop in January 1961. They had been invited in the hope that they might help black tenants, whom landlords were trying to force off the land, to register. In April 1961, twelve persons came to Highlander. The faculty member was urged by Septima Clark to use these persons, including the students, in conducting citizenship schools. She saw this program as giving direction to faculty and students at other colleges to "do some constructive work along with the sit-in movement."155 Later, it was reported that twelve students were teaching citizenship classes and that at the end of the three-months period, the classes would continue. However, the continuation was limited to further reading instruction rather than applying the information gained in the class to activity in the community, as Esau Jenkins would have done.
A parallel development involved the Tennessee State Beauticians League, which agreed to raise funds to support work in West Tennessee, in addition to undertaking voter registration activities. A leadership workshop was held October 28-29, 1962, in cooperation with the league, and the Chattanooga league sponsored a workshop on voter education, January 20-22, 1963. On February 23, 1963, a Highlander staff member met with league members to discuss a program of public education on use of the voting machine.156
By early 1964, the program had grown to include other aspects of voter education. In April, four-day workshops were held in the various districts of Haywood County, Tennessee, each including five meetings. The first dealt with setting up and recruiting for citizenship classes, emphasizing the need to enlist community organizations. The second and third meetings were concerned with the structure and operation of various levels of government. At the fourth meeting, such topics were discussed as availability locally of political jobs, qualifying for candidacy and organizing the community behind a candidate, including setting up a voter registration campaign. The last meeting was devoted to exploring the interrelations of the preceding discussions."157
The Extension Program. The many workshops in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, West Tennessee and elsewhere (and, of course, at Highlander) were providing down-to-earth practical training in the meaning and practice of citizenship for thousands of persons. They became able to have an impact for the first time on political processes which controlled their lives. The lessons learned in the Sea Islands of South Carolina were being applied at least in part over a 600-mile radius from where they were first worked out.
It is, in fact, astonishing that Highlander should have been able to contribute so much while under the threat and the fact of being forced to close the school. In addition to the programs conducted at or by Highlander, staff members were directly involved during this tense period as trainers and consultants on organizational aspects of many citizenship school programs conducted by other organizations. Data on such support given to citizenship class efforts alone for the period from October 1960 to June 1961, though incomplete, are shown in Table 4.2.
Table 4.2. Citizenship Classes Conducted by Cooperating Sponsors,
October 1960 - June 1961a
No. Registered to Voteb
S.E. Georgia Voters Crusade
13 counties in S.E. Georgia
Chatham Co. Voters Crusade
Dec. 1960-Mar. 1961
Haywood Co. Civic and Welfare League and Original Fayette Co. Civic and Welfare League
Madison Co. Civic and Welfare League, Alabama
Huntsville, Farley and New Market
Oct. 1960- Feb. 1961
Dec. 1960 -Feb. 1961
Montgomery Improvement Assn., Alabama
Citizens' Committee of Charleston Co., S.C.
Charleston, Edisto Island, Wadmalaw Island
Nov. 1960 -Mar. 1961
a. Data for subsequent years would show a substantial
Training for More Effective Citizenship. As more and more citizenship school students were helped to gain the rudiments of reading and writing, other needs came to the fore: to become more skillful in reading. to read newspapers, for example, with greater understanding; to learn how to carry out the duties of the office to which one had been elected. In time, all of these objectives were served. But in the late fifties, progress toward meeting such needs was inhibited by the lack of trained community leaders. A common failing was their inability or lack of awareness of the need to share leadership tasks. Or they failed to see the importance of taking the vital next step, from teaching reading to organizing. Some, of course, like Esau Jenkins had learned that lesson.
Septima Clark noted that in one nine-day period, Jenkins was responsible for the registration of 906 voters in Charleston County. A vital factor was such activities as raising $187 locally to pay for gasoline and oil to haul registrants into Charleston, the only place they could at that time register. By Contrast, in Prince Edward County, although local leaders had succeeded in increasing registration, they did not follow through on the suggestion that car pools be organized to assist voters to get to the polls, so the potential results were lost.""
South-wide Voter Education Internship Program. In the years following establishment of the first citizenship school, Highlander had continued to promote such schools and the training for them on an increasing scale. To this end, Highlander considered the residential workshop a key element. But traveling to Highlander for a week-long workshop was not possible for many. Hence, beginning September 30, 1958, the South-wide Voter Education Intern Project was begun with two consecutive two-week workshops being held on Johns Island. The first had an enrollment of thirty-one students from twenty communities, and the second attracted twenty-two persons from eleven communities.
The first week of each workshop was devoted to examination of such topics as legal requirements for registration and discussion of the power of the ballot. In the second week, participants lived in the surrounding community with civic leaders, observing and taking part in all of the different phases of the movement to promote political participation by blacks in Charleston. County. In this second week they were, in effect, serving as interns. They were taken on guided tours during the day to observe the progress made by the black community through the ballot, through organization, through negotiation committees and through demonstrations. The evenings were spent observing voter education classes. At the end of the two weeks, workshop participants agreed: "They hadn't realized the essential need, in the field of voter registration, of having so many various projects going on at the same time."159
Successful though these workshops were, their effectiveness was hampered by the fact that available facilities were grossly inadequate. The year 1962 saw completion by the Progressive Club (aided by a $10,000 loan, paid off in 1967) of a new building on Johns Island with sleeping accommodations for twenty-five and with suitable meeting space. The first workshop (voter education and community development) in the new facilities was held under the auspices of the South-wide Voter Education Project (SVEP) in June 1963, with two others following that summer. (The SVEP was set up with Highlander's assistance with Esau Jenkins as project director. "Internship" was dropped from the title in 1962.) This expanded activity was based on a growing conviction that there was a need to broaden and deepen the new black voters' concepts of their rights and responsibilities as citizens of the Deep South. Accordingly, Jenkins and others in Charleston County agreed to utilize their programs as a basis for training and demonstration.160 The seventeen citizenship and political education schools in the Charleston area, with their enrollment of 881 students, "were to serve as demonstration classes for the community leaders who were to be brought in from across the South for two twelve-day workshops in October."' 161
The first five days on each workshop were spent at the Sea Islands center. Case studies were presented on specific civil rights activities. Discussions followed, relating the presentations to situations in the home communities of the participants. These discussions covered the meaning of the political process and candidate qualifications.162 In the next five-day intern period, students lived in homes of civil rights leaders in Charleston and on the Sea Islands. They observed the operation of the citizenship and political education schools and were shown what progress had been made through the ballot, mobilizing community resources, negotiation committees, etc. There was also a series of "floating" workshops which met "in different parts of Charleston and Berkeley counties. Most of the discussion leaders and those who gave talks on particular topics were local people, not the experts." The evenings were spent in a larger meeting with the residents invited to attend and participate. Workshop participants led these discussions.163
Bernice Robinson stressed the value of this experience in leading discussions because it made it possible to test immediately how clearly information came through by the second week. The necessity to be the teacher to teach others was decisive in bringing about change. 164 Herman Blake reported further:
Attendance at the plenary sessions ranged from 82 to 300 persons, and it was estimated that the floating workshops involved more than 1,000 persons in each session. We would suspect that the example of whites and blacks, the educated and the functionally illiterate, working together, sharing all parts of the program; learning from each other, had a profound impact on the grassroots communities.165
Largely as a result of the "demonstration" citizenship schools and the interaction with the interns, 1,338 new black voters were registered in Charleston County.166 The final two days of the workshop were spent back at the Sea Islands center comparing notes, evaluating experiences and talking about participants' plans for action back home.
In the summer of 1964, the South-wide Voter Education Program (SVEP) workshops were repeated with an enrollment of fifty-five interns. One intern subsequently ran for office (the first black candidate in his district since Reconstruction), and a group from the first session registered thirty-six persons on the Monday following their return home.167 The 1965 SVEP program was held for a month beginning August 14 on Johns Island. There were two intern training workshops with forty-two students. Working out from the center, the interns canvassed for registrants house to house, helped with workshops and served as observers at the voter registration office to watch for inequities.168 In a staff report, Septima Clark noted that nine demonstration workshops and three voter registration classes enrolled 1,200 local students and that nearly 500 persons registered during the three days the registration office was open. The citizenship education/community leader training curriculum had matured greatly in Charleston County, and, through the Sea Island center, Highlander was multiplying its effect through the South.
Participation in Community and Government Organization. Indicative of the variety of activities carried on by members of citizenship classes was an SCLC report of discussions aimed at informing people of legal rights, helping the elderly to get social security, mobilizing for integration, seeking better facilities in the community, encouraging job applications where blacks had not worked before, helping widows and disabled persons receive aid, organizing cleanup drives and learning to negotiate with city officials. 169 The purpose was to use classroom learning for problem solving in the community. In other cases, efforts were made to gain places for blacks on the boards of voluntary organizations and government commissions. Also, a 1963-1964 SCLC report noted a greatly increased awareness in the citizenship classes of the need to participate in precinct activities in order to have an influence on the political process.
Another important development came with the initiation of the War on Poverty.
When the War on Poverty was announced the people on Johns Island ...made a house-to-house survey of community needs, and Esau Jenkins and Bernice Robinson wrote the first OEO proposal for Johns Island.... Eventually OEO made grants to Johns Island for child care centers even though the original proposal was for a multipurpose center. Many of the teachers in the child care centers are former citizenship education teachers, and many of the new careerists in these centers are former students in the citizenship classes.170
In rural areas, efforts were made to help black farmers run for election to the county committees responsible for administration of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) program. These committees had a good deal to say about the crop allotments assigned to each farm and thus for subsidy payments. Several workshops were set up at Dorchester171 and in late October 1965, an information and training workshop on the ASCS program was held at the Mount Beulah center in Mississippi. The results were not spectacular, but a few black committeemen were elected.
Helping Black Candidates. With the significant increase in black voter registration in the South, more and more blacks were beginning to run for office. Having been shut out previously from the political process, however, these candidates were woefully ignorant of how to proceed. Workshops were therefore offered to assist them. One example was the SCLC workshop in Atlanta for all fifty black candidates for public office in Alabama.172 Highlander offered a workshop in June 1966 for black candidates for city, county and state offices. Topics ranged over a wide spectrum: politics and political campaigning; whether or not blacks should work within the existing party frameworks or try to organize a party of their own; the use of the political machinery of the various Southern states; the qualifications, duties, and procedures to be followed by persons seeking public office; the importance of knowing the economic and occupational status and religious affiliations of the electorate; the importance of propaganda; and the role of pressure groups. The announcement of the workshop stated: "Electing candidates to public office is serious business; we must cease the practice of accepting persons simply because they are 'good looking' or 'belong to my church' and demand that issues and the needs of the people are things candidates are informed on and willing to discuss."173
In the spring of 1961, Septima Clark, the Reverend Andrew Young and Dorothy Cotton traveled throughout the South trying to organize a program under SCLC auspices and to recruit trainees who would attend workshops at Highlander. By 1962, SCLC began to run its own training program and, as the work expanded, offered more and more training on its own account. By June 1962, the chairman of the Highlander board stated that SCLC, with the aid of a Highlander-trained staff, had already trained over 200 teachers and reported almost 200 local citizenship schools in operation.174 There were forty in South Carolina alone. A year later, there were eighty. Following a workshop in August 1963, seventeen more were started. Black voting strength in the state rose from 57,000 to 150,000.175 By late 1963, according to Septima Clark, there were 800 teachers in the South giving four hours per week over a three-month cycle. Along with instruction to improve literacy and to promote voter registration, they were expected to encourage development of a civic organization in the area from which a class drew its members.176 They received thirty dollars per month for expenses, paid from Field Foundation funds.177
Evolution of the CEP. Progress was slow at first. SCLC was supposed to recruit for the classes, but participants often did not materialize. Septima Clark and her helpers had to recruit as well as teach. The tide began to turn with the civil rights confrontation at Albany, Georgia. The demand for learning for a purpose rose as more and more blacks began to see that they could improve their lot through their own efforts. But it became clear that some equivalent of the get-acquainted period (in 1954-1955) on Johns Island was a necessary preliminary to an effective organizing program anywhere. In 1961, in Mississippi, it took a year before tangible programs began to emerge. Then it became possible to bring busloads of trainees to Dorchester center. A report by SCLC to the Field Foundation covering the second year of its Citizenship Education Project stated that getting sufficient students was no longer a problem. As a result, it was possible to be more selective in choosing applicants. During the 1962-1963 year, 502 persons from twelve states attended SCLC training workshops. South Carolina sent 132; Mississippi, 82.
The demand for classes was increasing while the educational needs were changing. A newspaper account in early 1963 described a citizenship class at Dorchester center. Such terms as citizen, Constitution and amendment became the basis for a discussion leading to the generalization that citizenship had been confirmed by Constitutional amendment. In addition to discussions of political power, there were presentations by a sheriff and a mayor on the functions of local government." Not all reports from the field were encouraging, however. A report from Albany, Georgia, in December 1962, expressed disappointment with the lack of response. A voter registration drive under the direction of a sorority had bogged down because some members wished to maintain sole "control," leading to alienation of cooperating groups and organizations. The area chairmen, who were members of the sorority, failed to involve grassroots leaders in area planning meetings. Apparently, there were conflicts along social class lines. The sorority itself was not united behind the project, one reason being fear on the part of those members who were connected with the president of the local black college.
The Albany experience introduces the complicating element of status and lifestyle. In the Sea Islands, participants were for the most part members of a low-income, poorly educated, rural population. Ministers (with few exceptions) and teachers were not actively involved. In towns and cities, group distinctions were more important. And in the case of college students working on voter education and registration programs in rural areas, serious problems arose over their profane language and working style, not to mention that many had been in jail. In fact, it was necessary for Martin Luther King, Jr., to bring the students together at Atlanta for a session on how to work with small-town and rural blacks.l79 In considering how to motivate a black community to vote, the SCLC approach first emphasized, as had the earlier Highlander efforts, the need to explain the many ways in which political processes controlled their lives and how their voting could help them to influence those processes. Many blacks, especially in rural areas, had no comprehension of this. Instruction on this point also tried to connect politics with ethics. Here, the program was moving from the is to the ought to be, as Myles Horton had put it.
Second, one-day citizenship clinics were held to follow up the citizenship schools, but not, evidently, on a significant scale. And third, conferences were held for ministers on "The Bible and the Ballot" to help them to move away from exclusive concern with a pious, personalistic religion to one which showed more identification with a prophetic model of concern for the community. In short, they were helped to find a theological basis for participating in voter registration.180 Another area covered in citizenship training workshops was titled Tricks of the Trade. This session dealt with different aspects of political activity but especially the ways in which the rules were being manipulated to thwart the new voters in the black community.
Not all of the SCLC workshops were carried on at Dorchester center. Observing one at Penn Community Center in 1963, 1 was much impressed with the down-to-earth approach of its leaders, Dorothy Cotton and Septima Clark of the SCLCCEP staff. There were sixty participants from six states, of whom twenty-five were men. The method was Socratic. They were asked, "What is recruiting?" "Why must we recruit?" Among the responses were such statements as: "Some people are embarrassed to admit they cannot read." "Some Negroes want to leave voting to whites." Other questions were discussed: "What do you think about these people? That they are lazy? Or that they lacked opportunity when they were younger and you must now help them?" And, "Why don't teachers help?" They answered, "They're getting so much money, they are afraid to help," and "Most PTA's are controlled by the principal rather than the community. You should work with the people and then get them into the PTA."
With respect to recruiting, discussion leaders suggested they "divide into groups and figure out an approach to recruiting a telephone conversation, an interview, a letter and a rough outline of a leaflet." Groups role-played a telephone interview. Each was subjected to a critique: "What was good about it? What could have been done better?" The groups then considered what they would be teaching, for instance, how to read and write, how to register, the qualifications of candidates and understanding government. They were asked, "How will you conduct your class?" They were told, "Voter registration must be connected with real problems to be solved." They learned how to work with literates and illiterates in the same class; how to deal with the one who wants to talk all of the time as well as those who do not talk enough to be sure that they understand what is being said."' Thus with respect to the format and methods used, the SCLC teacher training curriculum continued to show strong similarities to the practical pattern of the earlier Highlander workshops.
There was, however, a significant difference between the Highlander and SCLC workshops in that the Saturday morning session was dropped in the SCLC version. For Septima Clark, the Saturday session was of decisive importance. First, the experience of "talking out" his ideas forced the trainee to make them clear to himself as well as to others. Second, the trainee benefited from the reactions and suggestions of the group. And third, the trainee would feel he had made a commitment to his peers.182 There was also a failure to provide effective follow-up. This was especially frustrating to Clark, who saw the investment in training being wasted. In late 1963, she wrote to King: "People walked, 50,000 of them. Your book sold, 200,000, [yet] a mixed group cannot be served in the Negro restaurants in Montgomery." Not only in Alabama was SCLCCEP moribund for lack of follow-up; the same could be said of Virginia, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee. In South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi there was continuity, and the results showed it. The lack of interest in follow-up was due, in her view, to the glamour and emotion which young people, especially, found in direct action. Nevertheless, the work went on, even though less effectively than it might have, and the curriculum continued to evolve. By 1965, the teaching of reading in the CEP was being conducted on three levels.
The first level utilized the citizenship workbook developed at Highlander and Johns Island, which contained in addition to instructional material for reading, writing and arithmetic, information on black history, social security, the power of nonviolence and planning a voter registration campaign; and a section on songs. The second level was concerned with the basics of political structure and process, with some emphasis on the importance of participating in the government of the community and knowing what services are available to citizens and what they need to know to secure them. The third level dealt with newspapers--learning to read and evaluate the news, features, editorials and advertisements with a critical eye so that they could not be taken in easily.183 There was also a course on how to recruit for citizenship school classes and how to educate people to the point where they would be better able to help themselves. "The citizenship school worker shouldn't have to go to the health department to ask for available health facilities; the people should be helped to know where these places are so they can go themselves."' 184 In short, CEP emphasis was shifting from literacy as a prerequisite to voter registration to increasing involvement in community affairs, including more participation by women.185
In a report to the Highlander board, Septima Clark noted that in South Caroline the voter registration program had been established in every county.186 In Alabama, progress had been much slower. It required many demonstrations to get the people ready for an education program, one problem being that the local leaders were afraid that outsiders would come in and take over from them. In the discussion which followed, it was pointed out that people from South Carolina were more effective working in their own state than they were in Alabama, and it was agreed that local leadership had to be developed. It was also pointed out that public school teachers in South Carolina had been active in social action work and registration for a much longer time than in Alabama or Mississippi and that South Carolina teachers had been the first group to contribute regularly and significantly to the NAACP.
At a Highlander board meeting, Bernice Robinson, citizenship school supervisor, saw the origin of her role in "the Highlander idea of following up once you train people and they go back to their communities. I follow up the teachers in South Carolina to see if the local people are really learning; if not, to evaluate the manner in which those we have trained are teaching."187 Her job included encouraging the citizenship school teachers not just to turn loose the participants after they had finished their three months of training but to help them organize citizenship clubs. The purpose was to hold them together so that they could work for an all-round citizenship program in the community. For example, she said that "in all South Carolina areas where we had citizenship school classes, the students carried their wards and precincts for [Lyndon B.) Johnson. In Beaufort County area, they had 100 percent of their Negro votes out on election day. . . . They organized through the classes and held their citizenship club meetings right on up to election day." In Selma County, Alabama, however, time was wasted on welfare projects which might better have been devoted to educating people to vote so that they could get the help their taxes were paying for. She deplored the fact that in Alabama the people continued to show lack of faith in themselves as leaders or chairmen, deferring instead to the professionals although "they would make a much better leader of the people than the doctor or the minister."188
But granted the evolution of a more sophisticated curriculum, was the participation of students more sophisticated? There is some evidence that, considering the low income and educational level of many of the participants, the discussions could be conducted at a surprisingly sophisticated level. For example, we might assume that a session on black history would be limited to describing achievements of some members of the black race. But a report on a citizenship school records that a Mr. Randolph Blackwell did an effective job in helping the group "realize its history." "To know who we are," he said, "and how we got this way helps us better understand where we are going and how best to get there." The report further records that discussion went on into the night and produced some significant observations about the feelings of mutuality and respect which developed between urban and rural dwellers, the "sophisticated" and unsophisticated, the bitter and the "wise," the hopeful and the trusting. One participant who came with broad experience in the movement rediscovered that the movement is basically the property of the people, that they themselves must be involved in planning a better life. There was also the eye-opening experience of discovering what the U.S. Constitution really means.189 Clearly, developing a good self-image was an important objective, as was the effort to gain not just the facts but an understanding of what the facts mean. Karen Fuqua, a white college student working in Mississippi and attending the workshop, pointed out:
Everything that is done is done as it is for a very special reason.... The teachers tried to draw out the ideas and observations of the students; they would then make a point based on these ideas and observations. . . In this way, the teachers build on the knowledge which the students possessed rather than trying to drum into them things which would not perhaps be related to their experiences.... No attempt was made to talk at the students or lecture them--techniques which would surely have failed.190
Valuable though the SCLC-sponsored workshops were, they nevertheless appeared to have lost something in the translation from the Highlander scene. The Dorchester House facility did not allow for quite the same informality and ready "living together in the community." Groups were larger, no longer twenty to twenty-five but forty to forty-five. With the reduction from a full week to four days and an evening, "there were no opportunities for individual and small group planning in relation to their back-home situations or for instruction in the use of audiovisual aids."191
With respect to omitting the session on "What We Will Do Back Home," Septima Clark said that there had been a conflict between her view and the desire of other SCLC staff members to participate in demonstrations on weekends.192 It was apparent that the impact of day-to-day crisis events outweighed the commitment of SCLC to the slower, long-term processes essential to the citizenship school and voter registration efforts, despite evidence of the limited value of demonstrations. When Clark set about reviewing a number of disappointing situations in several states, she hoped that Dr. King would become aware that many citizenship schools were being lost for lack of follow-up; apparently, she was the only worker doing field visitation at that time, (Later, Bernice Robinson came into the program to provide follow-up in some areas.) As Clark observed: "Direct action is so glamorous and packed with emotion that most young people prefer demonstrations over genuine education."193 Yet, despite the drawbacks--including potentially lethal resistance, extraordinary progress was made with meager resources.
Statistical Data on CEP If we look at the available statistical data on the expansion of the SCLC Citizenship Education Program, we can see very substantial progress from its beginnings in 1961-1962 through the next five years. Unfortunately, the data from various sources provide only partial coverage of area and time period. However, available reports do indicate, in part, the scope and effectiveness of the CEP program, especially with respect to training workshops, less so for the organization of citizenship schools and the resultant voter registration. (See Table 4.3.)
Table 4.3. Citizenship Education Program (SCLC)
No. of Citizen Schools
No. of Students
Penn Community Center, Atlanta and Mississippi
|1966-1967||Penn Community Center||230c|
a. SCLC, ThreeYear Report. The figures on persons registered is attributed "mostly" to the citizenship schools, ESF files.
b. Clark, report to Highlander board of trustees,
May 14, 1965, ESF files.
c. Cotton, Citizenship Education Program, Annual Report 1967, ESF files.
By 1967, according to Clark, the SCLC program had trained at least 3,000 teachers. She estimated that these teachers had taught at least 42,000 others, and their influence may have gone even further. It is claimed that voter registration in Alabama rose from 111,000 to 250,000 as a result of the SCLC program. One result was that blacks were able to bypass Governor Wallace's efforts to veto OEO programs. In Charleston County, voter registration went from 57,000 in 1962 to 190,000 in 1967. The target was then raised to 250,000 in South Carolina. Formerly, the registration books were open two days a month and only at the county seat. By 1967, voter registration could be completed any business day of the year in local communities in South Carolina.194 Although SCLC was experiencing difficulty in financing its work in the late sixties, their files indicate that even as late as 1969-1970, there were forty-three active citizenship school teachers in South Carolina. In December 1969, thirty-dollar vouchers were paid to sixty-one such teachers in eight states. In April 1970, seventy teachers in six states were paid for teaching in citizenship schools. In that month, 846 students were helped to register to vote. After that, no SCLC workshops were held at Dorchester.195
Although it is difficult to estimate how many citizenship classes were taught, it is certain that those attending must have numbered in the tens of thousands. But we cannot even guess at the number who, as a result of teacher training or taking a class, undertook to play some role in the public life of their communities. But, given the motivation deriving from the crisis and from the educational experiences, their number must have been legion."'
As we have seen, progress in promoting CEP was quite uneven in the various states of the South. A tabulation by states of citizenship program leaders trained by SCLC from 1961-1962 to 1964-1965 follows:
The four leading states accounted for 78 percent of the total of 1,100 trainees.197 The total for Mississippi is especially impressive considering the violent opposition encountered there from White Citizens Councils. The results in Mississippi may have reflected in part the activity of many college students who entered the state to bolster indigenous efforts in those years. The total for Tennessee, however, seems meager. Perhaps the publicity accompanying the events leading to the revocation of the Highlander charter may have had some effect. It should be noted that the data refer to SCLC efforts and presumably do not include the results of other programs such as Highlander's extension programs. At the same time, Table 4.3 shows that for the same period, 1,600 trainees were claimed. The sources do not give us a basis for explaining the discrepancy.
Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council. The programs heretofore described emphasized voter registration as an integral part of citizen education. Contributing to their success was another program which emphasized voter registration primarily. Initiated by the Southern Regional Council (SRC), the program was called the Voter Education Project (VEP). It is brought into this account partly because there was some mutual reinforcement between VEP and the programs discussed above and partly because its statistical reports on registration and on political candidates and elected officials provide clues to the effectiveness of the community leader and citizenship training programs.
The SRC began as an organization of whites concerned with integration. Initially, it limited itself to such relatively non-controversial activities as the distribution of literature, but in the late fifties, it began to support the voter registration efforts of a group of organizations (see below) which used SRC funds to finance registration drives. Through VEP, the council financed many voter registration programs by paying expenses of voter registration workers and by distributing relevant literature. It was not a "school" program involving classes. "It was less an educational program on a group basis than it was like a door-to-door registration drive."198 Esau Jenkins, for example, received SRC funds to pay his expenses while carrying out his voter registration campaign in Charleston County. Substantial sums were put into this activity. Expenditures in the first year totaled $237,177. The participating agencies are said to have accounted for more than 115,000 new registrations in the first year and forestalled the purging of 15,000 others from the voter lists.199
It should be understood that the SRC/VEP was not a derivative of the Highlander program, although Highlander did encourage those who had participated in its programs to request financial assistance from SRC for their voter registration efforts. The first public announcement of the SRC/VEP was made on March 29, 1963. Joining in were the executive heads of the NAACP, National Urban League, CORE, SCLC and SNCC. As a condition of giving financial support for voter registration efforts, SRC required reports from which it hoped to gain insight into problems encountered, methods used and results achieved. Its research efforts were hampered, however, because it had to depend upon "the personnel of action-oriented organizations."
By 1969, according to Vernon Jordan, SRC director, total black registration in eleven Southern states had risen from about 250,000 to 3,200,000. This represented an increase from 5 percent of the voting population to 62 percent. In 1965, there were about seventy black elected officials in the South. By 1969, there were 479.200 On November 3, 1970, according to a report of the Voter Education Project, Inc. (which on June 6, 1970, had become an independent unit, separate from the SRC), 110 out of 370 black candidates were elected. Of the 110, thirty-five were incumbents. The total number of black elected officials was stated to have reached 665. Only Arkansas still had an all-white legislature. In Georgia, blacks retained fourteen seats in the legislature and added one more. In the 1972 elections, 598 black candidates were elected or reelected to public office in the South. This brought the total number holding office to 1,144.201 Of 1,781 state legislative seats in the region, blacks held only one in 1962 but 103 by February, 1977.202
Contributing to these results was the continuing expansion of black voter registration-an increase totaling 212,000 between the 1968 and 1970 elections.203 By supporting voter registration efforts, the SRC/VEP program helped citizenship school students achieve a goal. At the same time, growing voter strength helped make easier the next steps, whether they involved learning to read or running for office or gaining access to existing public services previously denied to blacks.
Because of their significant contributions to the civic health of the South in particular and to the nation as a whole, note should be taken of how rich in politically relevant consequences the various educational experiences described here were. That so wide a range of possibilities could have been made available is remarkable in itself. What then were some of the potential contributions to civic competence?
1. Attitudes were changed. Hopes were encouraged that one's lot could be improved by working with others. The prevailing attitude that anything good must belong to the white man was altered. Many were helped to gain a sense of being somebody, a necessary forerunner to achieving a sense of first-class citizenship. And this, in turn, was prerequisite to the act of joining with other citizens to take political action.
2. Learning to read and write not only had profound psychological consequences for adults, but it opened the door to communication throughout the whole world of the written word. Special attention was eventually given to the need for the skills required to read a newspaper critically. The connection between this ability and better citizenship is evident.
3. Understanding government structure and procedures, the political process and the strategy and tactics of political action was emphasized, especially in the case of SCLC, after 1963. Much attention was given to teaching black citizens how to discover and demand the public services of which white citizens were availing themselves. As a consequence, staff and community leaders were freed for organizational tasks instead of being overwhelmed with requests for help from myriad individuals.
4. An impressive array of skills was learned by many leaders: how to conduct meetings so as to develop understanding and make decisions, how to role-play to gain insight, how to identify leaders, how to get them involved in community activity, how to organize voter registration and election campaigns and how to form organizations for community betterment.
5. Thousands of new leaders were identified and helped to learn how to function more effectively in their communities. It was learned that being a doctor or a minister did not necessarily mean being a leader while, on the other hand, even a poorly educated member of a community might become the most effective leader in it.
6. Emphasis was given to a concept of teaching/learning which rejected the lecture in favor of an approach which emphasized exploring the connection between the life experiences of the students and the various problems they faced at a community level. A more effective model for group learning was demonstrated which had direct relevance for black voluntary groups.
7. It appears, although the evidence is imprecise, that the more and the less sophisticated, urban and rural, educated and uneducated, were able (not without difficulty, of course) to join together in a cause and to work to improve the welfare of all. Part of the evidence can be seen in the role played by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in organizing and teaching citizenship schools.
8. Participants developed a willingness to commit themselves to help others in their communities. The Highlander workshops especially seem to have succeeded in motivating members to action in their home communities.
9. Blacks (many of them citizenship school teachers or students) gained the courage and the skills needed to run for office and were elected in growing numbers. Educational programs supported the development in two ways--through workshops for candidates on how to run for office and workshops for voters on how to evaluate candidates and help them win.
10. Many blacks were aided through special workshops to prepare themselves for effective membership in the network of committees and boards, both public and private, through which so many public functions are conducted in our society.
In sum, there must have been tens of thousands of blacks who gained the information and understanding, the willingness to participate and the skill necessary to take an effective role in the civic life of thousands of communities throughout the South.
Dynamic Elements in the Highlander Program
An attempt has been made on the basis of data, unfortunately incomplete, to show the significant consequences of the citizenship education and leadership training activities of Highlander Folk School (and its successor, the Highlander Research and Educational Center, Inc.) and of the many organizations with which it cooperated. It now remains to try to identify the critical elements which helped to achieve the perceived results. Highlander itself ascribed the results partially to the social and political situation existing in the fifties and sixties, seeing it as a kind of "revolution of rising civic expectations" to which literacy education and voter registration were directly responsive.204
In addition to the social movement which was engaging blacks in increasing numbers, two other factors were of critical importance in the success of the educational program initiated by Highlander. The first was Highlander's philosophical and educational rationale, including the reliance on the residential workshop as a way of developing understanding and commitment. The second was the element of leadership as found in the persons of Septima Clark, Esau Jenkins, Bernice Robinson and others, including, of course, Myles Horton himself.
Highlander's first efforts to train community leaders, it will be recalled, either failed outright or did not expand their initial scope--in sharp contrast to what happened in the Sea Islands. A shared concern about community problems seemed to be lacking in Altoona, Alabama, and Whitwell and Monteagle in Tennessee. In addition, as Horton has pointed out, a mistake was made in trying to rush matters (in effect, bypassing a necessary process) by sending in paid staff members (themselves untrained and somewhat naive) to try "to get something started" without any preparation and without any evidence that anyone cared enough about existing conditions to want to change them. Later, in Kodak, Tennessee, contact was made with a leader who had some understanding of what was involved, and there were enough people concerned about a (limited) range of problems to start a program. In the end, progress was made on a number of fronts in Kodak, but the "level of consciousness" in the wider community (that is, Appalachia) with respect to a need for change was not high enough to result in the program continuing to expand on its own. Significantly, in Kodak the idea of developing their community was put to them; it did not come from them.
The situation was quite different on Johns Island. There a capable, energetic leader, Esau Jenkins, was keenly and personally aware of the disadvantages under which he and his fellow citizens labored. He spared no effort to remind his neighbors of their civic disabilities--disabilities shared and acknowledged by blacks throughout the South. Furthermore, an extraordinary woman, Septima Clark, was already undertaking to help residents of Johns Island to work out a solution to their health problems.
In the beginning on Johns Island, there was already an organizational framework of sorts: churches, the Citizens Club and the Progressive Club. Their value as vehicles within which leadership training and education for civic competence could take place was potential rather than actual, but, eventually, community concern, an appropriate educational approach and available leadership were combined in a way which was to be replicated to an impressive degree across the South.
On a wider stage, other forces were at work. The Supreme Court decision on segregation had given impetus to the civil rights movement. The Kennedy and Johnson administrations gave active encouragement to achievement of these goals. And in the sixties, the unemployment rate among blacks in Northern cities discouraged migration from the South and led many to stay and fight for economic and political gains.205
A place where these elements came together was the Highlander Folk School
workshop on school desegregation in the summer of 1954 (which Clark attended)
and the workshop held later that summer at Highlander to which Jenkins came
at Clark's urging. In that experience, he recognized possibilities for moving
toward his goals of increased participation in political affairs, more specifically
toward increased voter registration. And Clark, too, saw possibilities, her
first move being to organize a one-day workshop in the fall of 1954 in Charleston
on school desegregation under the auspices of the PTA, to which she invited
Myles and Zilphia Horton. This experience, together with a visit to Johns
Island, suggested to Myles Horton that an interest and concern existed there
which might provide the opportunity he sought for Highlander.
In addressing a conference in Lackawanna, New York, sponsored by the Citizens Federation of Lackawanna (an outgrowth of a project of the National Conference of Catholic Charities, financed in part by the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation), Myles Horton described the Highlander rationale. He stressed his basic conviction that democracy was a concept worth practicing and working toward; that brotherhood was an idea worth struggling for; and that the freedoms of speech, assembly and worship were goals that we had not achieved but were worth the effort to do so. He quoted Thomas Jefferson, "who talked about educating free men to govern themselves," but noted that in moving from where you are to where you ought to be, rules and methods must be open and flexible, adding, "We had relatively few rules ... because we feel that once having established a goal--a direction in which to move (a philosophy) and having become acquainted on the other hand with the situation in which you work, that the educational process will try to connect things as they are with things as they should be...."206
The essence of this approach seems to be that the process must be open-ended. It is for the participants to determine where it will go. But how the decision is arrived at and how implemented must be consistent with democratic principles; otherwise, Highlander would withdraw. This explains, at least partially, why Highlander and the labor unions parted company. As the unions in the South grew and solidified their policy line, they conceived of education as a process of converting members to their official position--the antithesis of the view that persons should be helped to think and decide for themselves. On the question of values as a guide to purposes to be served, Horton said:
When we find an individual who voluntarily comes to Highlander, or a community which asks for our assistance, we then must decide what assistance to give. Education to me is based on the assumption that the educator has a purpose or a set of values.... In practice, we use every educational means at our disposal to expose people to the stated purposes of Highlander. In Johns Island, for example, we would not have helped with a vocational training program, however badly needed, or however ardently desired. We became involved there because among things they wanted to do were some that coincided with what we wanted to do. Since Highlander was involved, the question of values did concern us. The hard facts are that the Schwarzhaupt grant was applied for the specific purpose of financing the kind of program Highlander believed in.207
Dignity and Worth of the Individual. Horton felt that each person in a group has something unique to contribute, whether it is the fruits of his experience or of his doctoral studies.208 Only the person from a community can tell other participants his own feelings about and perceptions of his community. He can readily identify with the feelings and perceptions of other participants. And collectively, they can arrive at some notion of what courses of action might be practicable. Nor was race considered to be a principle of exclusion or inclusion:
From the start, Highlander brought in Negro teachers, and at an early stage had an integrated board of directors and some black students. But within a few years after the conclusion of World War II, Highlander decided, publicly and proudly, that its most important mission then was to sponsor a pilot education program, the first in the South, to assist black and white community leaders, labor organizers and students, in handling the infinitely difficult and dangerous problems of desegregation.209
The evidence of integration in Highlander's own organizational practice and activities would seem to have been a necessary element in the acceptance of its educational program and the development of motivation on the part of both whites and blacks to "go forth and do likewise."
Integrity, then, was an essential element in the Highlander program. As Myles Horton said:
We make greater progress if we find some way to incorporate in our first step the ideas we want to realize in the end. . . . People know that ... if they come to Highlander ... the next person who drops in is liable to be a farmer, the next a labor organizer and the next might be a banker. It's this kind of thinking that sets Highlander apart from so many other organizations that seem to be moving much more rapidly on specific issues. But in the long run we think we make as much progress as the people who make concessions.210
In the same conversation, Septima Clark illustrated the point in another way. She pointed out that another important teaching on the part of Highlander was the importance of realizing that getting a project finished or a problem solved was not the only important thing. It mattered what concessions had to be made to get it. As an example she spoke of the credit union which the black teachers of Charleston wanted. When the charter came, it said, "For Colored teachers only." Highlander counseled the group not to accept the charter but to insist on one which said "For teachers." It took two years, but eventually they got it. As a result, the organization was stronger because they had not made a concession on this point.
Education as the Focus. It is important to underscore the point
that Highlander saw its function as education--to effect changes in a person's
way of thinking, feeling and acting. What the individual did as a result
of such changes became his responsibility. "Highlander is committed to helping
men and women, whose sole concern has been day-to-day survival, to achieve
the self-confidence to think and act for themselves and at last to glimpse
a future in which their needs and their own ideas will really count."211
Some years later, a colleague expressed the idea in different words: "The
goal of education was the release of the potential and energies of the poor,
not the relief of their problems.”212
Working with Informal Leadership. Horton emphasized that, as a matter of policy, Highlander preferred to work with volunteers in groups and would discourage a paid official of an organization or agency from becoming a student because he or she would be limited by the organization policy:
We try to stay away from people who can be told by somebody else what to do.... The lay leaders with Highlander ideas become the officials and carry into their official responsibilities some of their own thinking which reflects Highlander's influence. This is a much sounder approach because our ideas then go in on a policy level.... This, I think, sets Highlander apart from any organizations who try to work with the power structure. We start at the bottom, and when one of our people gets into the power structure, he's there because he's got his roots in the community. Nobody is going to tell Esau Jenkins, you see, what he's going to think. He's going to tell them.213
Organization Structure. Another critical point in the Highlander scheme had to do with the need for organizational structure. In a discussion at a Highlander workshop in 1965, some participants had argued against setting up any organization because it would get in the way of the civil rights movement. Horton's view was that while structure could be a bad thing, it was necessary. But it must grow out of the program or it would get in the way. Speaking of Highlander's involvement with labor unions, he noted that some began by adopting somewhat liberal goals but that the structure prevented them from materializing: "None of the unions which were organized on a segregated basis have ever changed. Some which started integrated have gotten more conservative, but you never go from conservative to liberal.... You must have the germ of the end product when you begin."214 And he expressed the belief that when a structure no longer served the needs of the people, it should be abolished.215
Whom You Organize and How You Do It. Horton also stressed the importance of having programs rather than a program. This was the way to get people. But programs were developed by talking with people and encouraging them to arrive at their own priorities. Anyone who wanted to help should not only be welcomed but encouraged to take part and not be kept on the periphery. But it would take more than a written invitation; it would require discussion and implementation of programs to demonstrate what was meant.
Another basic principle of Highlander's way of developing lay leadership was its insistence on working through local people, at their request, rather than taking a preconceived idea into a community. This principle was considered by Septima Clark to be fundamental. It was critical, therefore, that she had roots on Johns Island when Horton was considering the possibility that Johns Island might provide a locus for Highlander's community leader training program.216 Also important was the need to have black staff. Blacks on Johns Island would have been afraid to work with a white person.
But prior to the question of how to organize or through whom is the question of who should be included in the organizing effort. In Myles Horton's view, it was essential to decide what would make a viable organizing unit and this decision must be based on the idea out of which the program must grow. There was the danger of incorporating too many internal conflicts, yet there had to be a substantial enough group to support action. Commenting on the argument between Clark and Jenkins about letting bootleggers into the program, Horton said that he would not exclude them but, of course, he would not include them just because they were bootleggers. This assumed that the program idea around which the organization was built could be generalized sufficiently to enlist the support of all who were in the group or were invited.
Finally, Highlander did not see its function as involving large-scale programs. When the citizenship education program began to expand rapidly, responsibility for its administration was transferred to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.217 Highlander did not want its creative energy drained away in the running of a large administrative organization.
In the preceding summation, we can see elements in Highlander's approach which suggest parallels or contrasts with Alinsky's views. First, we know that Horton agreed with the idea that it may be necessary to build an awareness of a wrong if there is to emerge sufficient motivation to take action. (The reader will recall Clark's comment about those Johns Island residents who believe everything good belonged to the white man.) Second, they were in agreement that an organization may easily outlive its usefulness, and when this happens it should be disbanded. Third, both emphasized the point that unless the community organization effectively represented local citizens, it was a sham. Alinsky's scathing rejections of community councils organized by agency personnel are well known. Fourth, both were skeptical of the viability of single-issue organizations. And fifth, neither wished to maintain a large structure. (The Industrial Areas Foundation maintained a very small staff.)
In spite of similarities, however, no one would confuse Highlander Folk
School with the Industrial Areas Foundation. Without detailing here the major
significant differences, we can point to one critical element: Highlander's
approach was much less directive, much more open-ended. Alinsky's staff emphasized
training of local staff and leaders in the tactics necessary to reach organizational
goals. The IAF was more concerned with developing organizational strength
to achieve goals chosen by the members than with the goals of fostering the
abilities of individuals (but not to the exclusion of the latter). IAF staff
would say, "This is how you do it." The Highlander approach was to encourage
participants in a residential workshop to figure out for themselves how they
would go about solving the problem they had identified.
The Residential Workshop
The round-the-clock, informal experience of living and learning together was seen as a powerful contributor to change; hence, the residential workshop was chosen as the preferred program framework for leadership development. Horton, speaking of leadership, said, "I feel that the most important single thing is the desire, the motivation to do it and not the mechanics.... If we contribute anything .... it is ... the feeling that it can be done because it is being done here. The living together and the working these things out together provides this motivation."218 So, although a workshop might be built around a problem such as school desegregation, the fundamental purpose was to develop people. The premise was that if people were developed, they would take care of the problems."219
Highlander Workshops: How They Worked. Between 1953 and 1961, 825 registrants attended twenty residential workshops at Highlander which dealt with voter registration and community leadership development. And in 1958, the workshops on integration began to include the word "citizenship" in the title. It had become clear that progress in integration depended on progress in citizenship as well. Scattered data in the Highlander files indicate that during the same period, 129 such workshops, residential and nonresidential, were held at other locations with a total enrollment of 4,515. Of the nonresidential workshops, fifty-four groups with 1,524 students met in 1960-1961 alone. These totals may seem modest, but Highlander deliberately refrained from allowing its program to grow unduly large because Horton was concerned that the unique contribution of Highlander would become diluted and staff energies would increasingly need to be diverted to fund raising.
But the impact was far greater than one might infer from a superficial look at the data. Often, several people would come from a community, together or successively or both. Back home, they then had a team potential. And with Highlander staff prepared to hold workshops on their own home grounds for these students, the effect was to provide encouragement and counsel for them as well as to bring more of their neighbors into the effort to improve conditions. Furthermore, the large increase in extension students in 1960-1961 was related to a much larger effort by other organizations for which the extension workshops provided motivation and guidance. In Herman Blake's words, "the people who had attended HFS workshops became a central core group for community action in the Sea Islands. They were all very enthusiastic about what had happened at HFS and they were anxious to put their enthusiasm to work in greater community involvement."220
Given the need to replace the existing "Uncle Tom" leadership with a new kind of independent, democratic leadership, the integrated character of a Highlander workshop was an appropriate "forcing bed."221 The workshops provided a forum for blacks to try out new roles in their relationships with whites which they could then use to help their neighbors back home. Materials developed by one workshop and subsequently tested in practice were revised and became the material for workshops the following year. Aimee Horton described this as a "functional relationship between the outcomes of one workshop and the planning and agenda of the next. Thus, selected participants in the 1953 and 1954 workshops assisted in planning the 1955 workshops. ..."222 Members of one workshop recruited other community members for workshops the next year--often themselves returning as resource persons. In just a few years a significant group of leaders in a community was trained--not always through a single experience but often as a result of significant follow-up and reinforcement by Highlander staff. The citizenship classes organized after 1956 were also a source of participants for workshops.
The workshop curriculum was problem-oriented:
We waste little time on preliminaries.... The problem that is the subject of the workshop, say registration and voting, is analyzed at the outset. What is the situation now? we ask. How many Negroes, for instance, what proportion of them, are voting? Why aren't more? Are they not allowed to vote, or did they simply not care to exercise their right of suffrage? Are they really not qualified to vote or are they being discriminated against? What are the facts?223
The discussion would then focus on bringing out concrete suggestions for solving the problem. Each participant was encouraged to work out his own plan for action. The hope was that by telling the group on the last day about his plan, he would further commit himself to take immediate action upon his return home. In such a setting, each participant was both student and teacher. Even in the effort to articulate his own community's problems, he gained in understanding, teaching himself, so to speak, The fact that people came with problems that already concerned them was an important reason for the success of the Highlander program, Meaningful as the week or two spent at a workshop might be, it was also important to recognize that the "educational process starts long before they come and continues long after they leave."224
Another critical element in the discussion was to ask, "Why do you do it?" Horton saw this emphasis throughout the workshop sessions on the facts of the situation, on the reasons for the situation being what it was, on what should be done and why it should be done in that way, as a continuing demonstration for workshop participants of how they could continue their efforts after they had left Highlander.225 They were to master the tools necessary for their own development. The pattern was one of down-to-earth education, grounded in real problems of importance to oneself and one's neighbors and reflecting a sound psychological approach. Ultimately, it helped to bring about a revolution in political power in the South.
Learning was further reinforced as participants came to see that Highlander was genuine. Aimee Horton noted that Southern black and white participants "emphasized the importance to them of various aspects of living and learning together in a 'desegregated' residential community. They spoke of the democratic, tension-free atmosphere where they could live and work cooperatively on the solving of their several problems of desegregation."226 Each workshop was an effective demonstration of the possibility of social problem solving on an integrated basis. She commented further that the groups were small and informal enough, the occasions for discussion and social interaction varied enough and the location far enough away from the distractions of ordinary living that "an intensive and rich social-educational experience" could result.227
One participant (a black teacher from Columbia, South Carolina) in a 1954 workshop expressed her feelings in very personal terms when she reported to a group back home:
I am here to talk with you and share with you some of my unusual experiences and findings at Highlander. For the first time in my life I have found myself in a place where the brotherhood of man was lived instead of just being preached--where discrimination in relation to our living at Highlander was never discussed because it didn't exist. We lived together in a dormitory where we shared a common bathroom and there was voluntary exchange of such personal possessions as bathing suits, bathing caps, toothpaste, soap, etc.... The reason I mention how we lived at Highlander is because to a Negro in the South the sense of personal dignity and respect which goes with these simple acts is more meaningful than a hundred sermons or a dozen interracial meetings.
During the workshop sessions everyone was comfortable and at ease. The workshop consultants--some were Ph.D.'s--wore bluejeans and sport shirts, and we never hesitated to interrupt them if we had ideas or questions we wanted to talk about. I told them about our problems here in Columbia, and I heard how people in other parts of the country were meeting these same problems in their communities. I feel like being at Highlander just opened my eyes to how many different folks there are in our town who can be brought together to get something done about our schools. I always knew what I wanted to get done but now I feel like I know how I'm going to get it done.228
But the living and working together did not come easily for everyone. According to Aimee Horton, some blacks coming to Highlander were very afraid of whites and very shy. Blacks from Johns Island came with their food prepared because they were afraid to eat in the dining hall with whites. They wouldn't come in until their food ran out.
Sometimes it took a while for a participant to take action. A Highlander correspondent wrote: "But now comes your part ... the effect the school had on Mrs. Parks. When she came back she was so happy and felt so liberated and then as time went on she said the discrimination got worse and worse to bear after having, for the first time in her life, been free of it at Highlander. I am sure that had a lot to do with her daring to risk arrest as she is naturally a very quiet and retiring person...." But it actually took about a year before she decided she would not move to the back of the bus. "Although Mrs. Parks was not `taught' at the workshop the action she was to take, she was taught by her experience there the possibility of living as an equal in an integrated society."229 This insight she expressed in a powerful act which led directly to the Montgomery bus boycott and the breakdown of segregation in business establishments there.
Coming to the workshop in itself represented a commitment to assuming a new social role in one's community. Coming for the purpose of learning to help their neighbors meant that the trainees had motivation. At the same time, the emphasis was on a cooperative rather than a competitive use of learning. The stress was not on what the learning could do for the individual participant but on how it could help him to help his community.230
Educational Principles in Practice. Perhaps the most important point in connection with the Highlander program was Myles Horton's concept of educational--a concept embodying various factors. First of all, education was viewed as a process rather than a content. Indeed, the Latin verb educare means "to lead forth." Thus, when people asked Horton to tell them what to do, his response was that he did not know what they should do, but after talking it over with others in a similar situation, they would end up telling him. Through the articulation of each person's concrete experiences in his community and discussion by the whole group, implications were brought out and tested. The key to the evolution of a program is to ask why you do it.231 Furthermore, if it is viewed as a process, then education in a democratic social milieu must be open-ended. There must be no preconceived program goal. "One must have confidence in the ability of people to find their own way."232
Kermit Eby, formerly education director (CIO) and later, Professor of Social Science at the University of Chicago, commented on this point:
Some of the political heads in the United Packing House Workers of America are protesting the work Horton's educational program is doing because it means that the pat answers which these same politicals hand the rank and file no longer suffice. Horton emphasizes what he calls the "percolator" rather than the "drip" system of education--ideas perking up from the rank and file rather than dripping down from the top. Horton's program differs basically from other more conventional methods in labor education because of its emphasis on developing leadership from the rank and file and because it emphasizes discussion topics chosen by the workers rather than topics written on the blackboards by staff members.233
This is not to say that Highlander took no position in the course of a workshop. It did. Commenting on accusations that leaders of sit-ins had attended workshops at Highlander, Horton said, "All of this is factually true. [However] it didn't occur to us to tell Rosa Parks what to do or to work out the strategy. But we did say to these people, 'You should have dignity and you should command respect, and you are going to have to organize to get it. Now just how you go about it, we don't know.'"234 The programs of several organizations in the South were first articulated at Highlander by participants from these organizations, but each organization evolved its own program afterwards.
It is appropriate here to recall an important principle to which we have referred above--the significance of the gap between what is and what ought to be. Horton continually stressed the point that it was not enough to work on a problem or even to solve it. For him, it was essential to go beyond what is (the problem and its solution) to a discussion of what ought to be (how and for what purpose the solution is to be used). It was not enough to learn how to write a check if your purpose was to commit forgery. Hence, a discussion of human dignity, brotherhood and democratic principles as they related to the problems outlined by the participants was an essential element of the Highlander workshop. Implicit in this approach was the need to see an illiterate, for example, not as he is but as he might become. 235
Another aspect of the Highlander concept of education was the need for free discussion, which the staff felt became difficult if more than twenty-five to thirty people were involved. Participants were asked to talk about their own experience and that of others, to analyze, to ask what can be learned from a recital of an experience. Every participant was allowed to say what he thought and was given respectful attention. To do otherwise for any would be to inhibit all.236 If Highlander staff and consultants had anything to give by way of information, they did so--but only if it was relevant to the discussion.
The critical question, of course, was what could be done to encourage participants to test what they had learned by application. In Horton's words:
We encourage workshop participants by saying, "You have brought these problems here. We have been a sort of catalyst in a process that makes a little bulge in your education. Now, are you going to keep on learning? You can learn more after you get back home than you did here because you have learned to look at your problems in a different way. Highlander will continue to relate to you in terms of this process when you get back. So you are not going back alone. We will work with you if you get introuble."237
A further point worth noting is the role of staff in such a workshop.
A participant in a community leadership workshop (August 28-September 3,
1955) said that in that workshop, at least, Horton seldom visited (although
other staff may have been present) except at the final session, which he
chaired. He supervised the preparation of reports and remained in the background
for the most part. During the week, the sessions were chaired by participants.238
All in all, it is clear that the residential workshop played an indispensable
and powerful role in Highlander's program.
The Role of Leadership
Highlander's contribution cannot be understood without analyzing the role of leadership. Nothing would have happened had there been no leaders, but to say this helps us to understand very little. We would like to know what kinds of leaders were involved, who they were, and from what ranks they came. How did these leaders and Highlander staff encounter one another? What functions did the leaders serve? What essential qualities did they have? Did they just grow? What part did the training play? When leaders left or "wore out" (psychologically speaking), were replacements available? Did the program or project encourage development of new leaders? Did leaders tend to waste energy in internal strife?
For the most part these are complicated questions. Unfortunately, the adequacy of the data bearing on each of them varies greatly and generally will permit no more than tentative conclusions at best. There is a good deal of information available on Myles Horton and his work, primarily in Highlander Folk School files, but to assemble and analyze it lies outside the scope of this study.239 There is also much information available in Septima Clark's autobiography concerning the activities growing out of the ESF grants. But the book, valuable as it is, lacks the circumstantial detail needed to form more than tentative judgments.
In considering these questions, one obvious first step is to distinguish two kinds of leadership functions: the leadership provided by staff and that provided by residents of a community. Both Esau Jenkins and Septima Clark provided leadership on a volunteer basis in the beginning, but Clark was asked to be a part-time staff member as early as the summer of 1955. She became a full-time worker for Highlander after her teaching contract in the Charleston Public Schools was terminated because of her membership in NAACP. Most of what Highlander undertook to do in the early stages of the Schwarzhaupt-financed project was based on Myles Horton's premises and his experiences in working with labor organizations and the Farmers' Union. But education for civic competence in a community framework presented a novel problem. It seems fair to say that for at least the first year of the ESF grant, Highlander was testing its ideas about how to work in and with a community.
Nothing came of the initial experiment of sending paid staff trainees into a community and trying to get acquainted with one or more persons who might be willing to convene a meeting to determine whether there were problems about which someone might try to do something. The communities were too suspicious of strangers and were troubled by factionalism; the staff were not sufficiently skilled; and the community's sense of a need for action was lacking. There seemed to be no effective way of identifying leaders with whom to work (except in the case of Kodak). Evidently, working with a community presented problems quite different from those inherent in working with an organization.240
In the next stage of Highlander's community leadership training program, however, the initial efforts were picked up and spread throughout the black South. The fortunate coming together of Highlander's program commitment under the ESF grant and the need felt by Clark and Jenkins for help to improve the lot of blacks on Johns Island has already been described. Certainly, the community wanted to improve itself. Its level of consciousness had been stirred by the efforts of these two leaders to "teach" the relevant sections of the South Carolina constitution to promote registration and voting and to secure mass inoculation of children against diphtheria. But a wider vision needed to be developed if community yearnings were to be realized. To this end and to the further development of leadership abilities, Highlander was able to make its unique contribution.
In the first Highlander workshop attended by Clark in the summer of 1954, her role was that of a volunteer. Her special task was to produce two brochures: "A Guide to Action for Public School Desegregation" and "What Is a Workshop?" In so doing, she was anticipating a type of staff function because the brochure project led her to clarify her thinking about how to work in a community, as well as the relationship of a continuing dialogue to this work. In the summer of 1955, she worked on a third brochure, "A Letter to a Community Leader." This was used to introduce to participants in other workshops a concept of what a community leader is and what is expected of him. It was undoubtedly of value to Clark to have articulated, in a workshop setting, the ideas that she would be applying over and over in communities throughout the South. Let us now consider what qualities made for effective community leadership, as we can discern them in the work of Esau Jenkins, Septima Clark and Bernice Robinson.
Esau Jenkins as Leader. First, Jenkins had great innate capacity. There is ample evidence of this in the fact that he, a poor farmer with five children (all of whom graduated from college), was able to build up a bus business, to develop two motels and a restaurant and to become a significant civic and political leader in Charleston County and in the state of South Carolina. His death received community-wide attention in Charleston.
Second, he had courage. It took great courage to stand up and demand that the white man "move over" and give blacks a chance--not only for more opportunity but for justice. The concern that blacks as well as whites must have justice was a powerful motivating force with him. Commenting on two cases involving the shooting of blacks by white men--cases which never came to trial although white lawyers accepted fees to take them on--Jenkins said: "These are the things, then, that motivated me to organize in 1949, a progressive movement, that we could help the people to be better citizens, give them a chance to get a better education and know how to reason and look out for themselves and take more part in political action."241
Jenkins felt that the responses of his neighbors to such problems were inadequate. "These people are hard-pressed people, and they are optimistic enough to believe that there are better days coming. When they get into these religious shouts, they feel so happy until that's all they can do but shout.... If you could come and see them how they look when they singing and shouting, you can see they singing for a better day, shouting for a better day."242 He took part in such affairs too. But he sensed that there must be a way to lift some of the burden in this life and saw voter registration as the key. This remained his theme until, as years went by, he understood the need to work in other areas as well--literacy, cooperative buying and partisan politics. His neighbors recognized his determination. "Others became discouraged and quit. But he hasn't ever become discouraged. He just work on through. The struggle has come with Esau. Esau has advocated justice, and don't be satisfied until you get justice."243 Finally, he had a deep concern for the welfare of others. As he said to Guy Carawan, "Long years ago I ask myself a question, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' And the answer that I got was, 'You are. . . .' I decided to do anything I can to help people in order to help myself.... And I tell you one thing, every progress that I have made in life, it came to me while I was doing some good for somebody."244
A story in a Charleston newspaper illuminated his character further: "White supremacists have called him a communist, and, ironically, some black militants now call him an Uncle Tom, perhaps because he drives an old Volkswagen bus with a message lettered on the rear which says 'Love is Progress; Hate is Expensive."' The paper then quoted him: "I believe in black power to this extent: to the extent that the Negro should build himself up morally, spiritually, politically and economically. But when it comes to hating white folks and hating the church and cursing white people, I don't buy that. It takes a pretty large person to love. Any small person can hate."245 This concern for others was matched by his willingness to give his time for community affairs. When first approached by Myles Horton, Jenkins was already very active in civic organizations, in addition to building up his bus line. Yet it must also be acknowledged that it was just as necessary for Jenkins to grow as it was for those with whom he worked.
After the first workshops attended by Clark and Jenkins in 1954, meetings to discuss local problems were held on Johns Island. These meetings, participated in by resource persons from Charleston, from Highlander and from elsewhere in the South, affected the thinking and the style of leadership assumed by Jenkins as well as the educational role assumed by Clark. In the spring of 1955, Jenkins wrote to Myles Horton: "My ideas of community leadership have changed in many ways since my stay at Highlander last year. I found that giving others something to do and helping make better citizens in the community is very important.... My old ways of doing was slow."246 Highlander helped him to see that his strength was not in doing things himself but in getting other people to do them. Horton noted with pleasure that at the Citizens Club meeting for April 1955, "instead of a guest speaker, there was an open discussion on advantages of registered citizens."247 Evidence of developing leadership on Johns Island emerged in other ways as well. By 1956, Jenkins and other leaders who had attended Highlander workshops were organizing their own workshops on voting, housing and cooperatives.248
Nevertheless, the need to spread and develop leadership remained a problem. Not that leaders did not exist, for as Clark pointed out, "In every community there are leaders on every level. They are the people who are looked up to, who are trusted, whose help is asked in time of trouble."249 Jenkins was such a person, but at times, Clark would express some impatience because he tended to talk too much while trying to persuade his hearers to act. It was only later that he came to see how his goal of building the voting power of blacks could be reached more quickly by sharing the leadership, by recruiting and training new leaders--using the workshop approach.
When Horton asked Jenkins and his neighbors why they did not do something to help people farther down the island, they said there weren't any leaders there. He then asked how they themselves had become leaders, and he answered his own question by saying: "You learned by doing it and you had enough feeling of confidence that you tried. You pass that on to somebody else ... and then you move on."250 Horton suggested starting classes at Hilton Head because as neighbors, as people known to the black community there, at least by reputation, they would be received without the suspicion attaching to outsiders. Jenkins could do things in Hilton Head which Horton could achieve only with great difficulty or not at all. For Horton, the fundamental point was that the local people must take responsibility themselves. If this were not done, "We would stifle all creativity and the initiative that is there for the uncovering."251
Speaking of Jenkins at a Highlander staff meeting in the early stages of the Citizenship Education Project, Horton said:
What he learned from Highlander was that you had to include everybody, even the moon-shiners. You've got to say, "Who is the best person in this geographical area? Who is the best person in this religious group? Who is the best in this social group? They are the leaders for that group, and it has nothing to do with how they stack up with leaders elsewhere. We work with the natural leaders." That, Esau learned. . . .252
Jenkins did, and presently people came to Highlander from six different sections of Johns Island. "Then Esau was in a position to work with these people on an island-wide basis, and that's when he started moving." When leaders on other islands asked how it was done, he would tell them about the adult schools, about the monthly meetings on civic and other local matters, about weekend workshop conferences and sending people to Highlander. He would then say that he would help them to do it in that way. But he would not come in and do it for them because it would be no good. "He uses what he learned: the Highlander method of involving other people."253
Septima Clark as Leader. Clark's qualities and abilities were many. She had a keen understanding of community organizing strategy. When Charleston teachers wanted to give her a check for $100 as a "going-away present" at the time her teaching contract was not renewed but were not willing to be photographed with her, her reaction was one of regret that they could not see the value of standing in support of one another to strengthen their position. She could not be intimidated. Like Jenkins, she had the courage to persevere in what she believed to be right in spite of threats. Like Bernice Robinson, she withstood the threats of bodily harm over many months in Mississippi and elsewhere. Her personal outlook and style were perfectly suited to the Highlander approach with its emphasis on the individual's assuming responsibility for what needed to be done. No task was too small or too big for her to undertake, and she sought help wherever it might be found. Patience was another important trait, especially in working with illiterates, unsophisticated people, because it was essential that they be able to learn at their own pace in their own way.
In his report on the Citizenship Education Project, Herman Blake underlined another vital quality, Clark's ability to inspire trust, especially among members of a quasi-folk society such as that on Johns Island. Although she was a trained professional of the middle class, she did not cut herself off from the struggle of those less fortunate. If her work took her into a home, she could join in a household task as she talked, thereby encouraging acceptance. She had the capacity to meet people on their own ground and to help them to move forward. She never usurped the responsibility of the individual for his or her own growth.254
Myles Horton commented many years later that she had shown a great capacity to grow. She was not really of the Johns Island community, but her ability to work with different groups increased greatly. At the Highlander workshop in 1960, from which the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee emerged, she addressed young college students as "children." But following the walkout of the young black militants from the convention on the New Politics in Chicago in 1967, she was asked to speak for the black Caucus when they returned. Like Jenkins, Clark felt a deep commitment to helping others. Through her sorority, she had worked to meet community needs in Charleston and Johns Island long before she became involved with Highlander. When she recruited Bernice Robinson to teach the first citizenship school on Johns Island, she helped her to apply and develop further a teaching method she had first learned herself when trying to teach illiterate soldiers to sign the payroll during World War 1, After World War 1, Clark went door to door to get signatures on a petition asking that black teachers be employed to teach in black schools. Ten thousand signatures were received, and by 1920 blacks were teaching in the public schools of Charleston.
When, in the late twenties, Clark accepted a teaching job in Columbia, South Carolina, a new opportunity to participate in civic activity was opened: "My participation in the program for the various civic groups not only strengthened my determination to make my own life count for something in the fight to aid the underprivileged toward the enjoyment of fuller lives, but also gave me excellent training in procedures that could be used effectively in that struggle.”255 It was as in Columbia that she first participated in interracial meetings. As a member of the Federated Women's Clubs, she took part in plays. "This work in dramatics proved to be good training in later activities not even related to the stage but rather to dealing with audiences and programs of one sort or another." This was also the time when she joined the NAACP. She became involved in the teachers' salary equalization campaign and helped secure affidavits for Thurgood Marshall who successfully argued the case.256
Speaking of this struggle, she noted:
My participation in this fight was what might be described by some, no doubt, as my first "radical" job. I would call it my first effort in a social action challenging the status quo, the first time I had worked against people directing a system for which I was working. But ... I felt that in reality I was working for the accomplishment of something that ultimately would be good for everyone, and I worked not only with an easy conscience but with inspiration and enthusiasm.257
These were the qualities, then, which Myles Horton recognized as fitting so well his own premises, worked out in the Highlander program--premises grounded in a principle of responsibility and self-determination and which "demanded that theory and discussion and decision be galvanized into action and achievement."258
Horton had asked Clark in late February 1955 to keep in touch with Jenkins and events on Johns Island and in Charleston and to report developments, to help Jenkins as opportunities might arise and to seek to identify other leaders who might be helped to play a more effective role in efforts to improve the black community. For this, she was paid a modest stipend through the Highlander Citizenship Education Project. That summer, she worked full time at Highlander in the workshop program, helping to draft a leadership training manual. Following her dismissal from the Charleston schools in 1956, Highlander employed her as the director of workshops; later, she became the director of education, a post she held until the closing of the school in 1961, when she joined the SCLC staff.
Thus, her role changed from that of a leader in a community (principally in Charleston, but also on Johns Island) to that of a staff member. She would be paid to help others learn, through workshops and consultations, to become effective community leaders. For Septima Clark, working with Esau Jenkins in the early stages of the Citizenship Education Project on Johns Island was not without its difficulties, in part, at least because Jenkins' attention was concentrated so single-mindedly on voter registration and participation in elections. Herman Blake noted "The two people had different goals which could complement each other," but there were differences that had to be worked out. By the late spring of 1955 the strains between them had eased for several reasons. Again in Blake's words:
Some of the Wadmalaw residents indicated a desire to start a civic association and Septima brought them together with Esau. Thus Esau became their advisor and mentor on civic improvement, registration and voting. This may have given him confidence that Septima was an enabler rather than a meddler. Secondly, in a trip to Johns Island in late May, Myles found Esau much more receptive to the idea of leadership training and development. He was enthusiastic about the development of a program on Wadmalaw. . .. Furthermore, Myles reported to him that Circuit Court Judge Waties Waring of Charleston had sent HFS a contribution for a scholarship to a community leadership workshop for the summer of 1955 and had marked it for "Esau Jenkins' project." In this way Myles and Septima made it plain to Esau that they did not want to displace him or usurp his authority; rather they wanted to spread his good works to others. Myles wrote of this trip: "There is no doubt that Esau himself has steadily developed in the direction of a democratic leader and that he is beginning to understand in a practical way the need for spreading leadership."259
Bernice Robinson as Leader. Although the available records tell us less about Bernice Robinson's contribution than about Clark and Jenkins, there is enough known to indicate that her role was decisive in many situations. Apparently, she, too, was a "natural" as a worker in community settings, whether locally or in the wider community. Her first appearance in the program was as teacher of the original citizenship school. Granted that she had Clark's encouragement and support, she was, nevertheless, in charge. If she failed, the class would fail.
It took, first of all, courage to assume responsibility without having had any training as a leader. But she had the necessary imagination and creativity, and by 1959, she was working half time for Highlander as teacher and supervisor of other citizenship school teachers. She understood Highlander principles thoroughly and was devoted to them--staying on for several years through the period when the school was forced to close, to reorganize and to move from Monteagle to Knoxville. Finally, she was a good organizer. She could think in terms of a team effort.260 For example, she conceived and implemented a plan to organize a volunteer coaching staff for the Voters Crusade in Charleston, consisting of a group of twelve women from each ward. It was their job to teach people about going to the polls, how to read the sample ballot, how to read from the law books (these reading tests being part of the scheme to keep blacks from registering to vote). In one ten-day period from April 29 to May 9, 1955, 692 blacks were registered. Robinson was part of a small team which, with Horton, had a profound impact on the South. She was elected to the board of the Highlander center on May 14, 1965.
Expanding Leadership Resources. In his 1967 survey of community leadership on the Sea Islands, Herman Blake made a special effort to identify evidence of the continuity or spread of leadership in the preceding decade:
In all discussions I usually asked people if they saw any younger people on the horizon who might eventually take positions of leadership, The commitment to Esau Jenkins was so deep and inclusive that the question rarely got any kind of response at all. One lady said to me: "Esau Jenkins may have some seconds, but I ain't seen them come along yet."261
Yet other leaders were beginning to come to the fore on Johns Island, and, of course, leaders had emerged on Wadmalaw and Edisto islands. One of the younger men on Johns Island was Bill Saunders, a veteran of the Korean War. He attended a Highlander workshop in which he advocated a more militant course than Jenkins was pursuing.262 Saunders' involvement, according to Herman Blake, "was motivated by the realization that all the time he was in Korea he was an American, but as soon as he returned to America he became a segregated Negro. As he put it, `This bugged the hell out of me.' And he felt he had to do some thing to change the situation.... In spite of his respect for Jenkins, Saunders had begun to take a more independent path...." It was Blake's view that Saunders' approach had two particular emphases:
He wanted to reach the young adults-youth between the ages of sixteen and thirty who were untouched by the developments on the island. He felt that in order to do this he had to go outside of the approach used by Esau Jenkins which involved meetings in churches with a highly religious style and content. Saunders spent much more time in pool rooms and bars where the young disaffected males might be found more readily. He was deeply committed to them.
The second difference in emphasis represented an outgrowth and maturation of the Citizenship Education Program. While enthusiastically supporting the voter registration campaign, he felt that it was crucial to move another step and begin to focus serious attention on the quality of the candidates available for whom Negroes could vote. This meant to him a much more critical approach to party politics and a refusal to vote party slates. He felt that even though the recent elections in Charleston had included a Negro on the winning ticket, the man had been selected by the party leaders and not by the Negro population. Therefore, he had supported an independent slate of black politicians. He felt that it was crucial that the Negro vote not be tied to one party or another but be used as an independent force to win necessary and desired concessions.263
In his mimeographed publication, The Low Country Newsletter, Saunders sometimes attacked the older leaders, including Jenkins, as dupes of the power structure. Perhaps conflict is inevitable between the first leaders, who had the courage to try to achieve something at an early stage of a struggle, and the new leaders, who may not realize the extent to which they stand on the shoulders of their predecessors. In the case of Saunders, a change may have begun when he confronted his responsibility in the Charleston hospital workers strike in 1967. At that time, he came to Clark for advice about what he should say that would be useful in the negotiations. "Today he is the most effective leader on the island and in the county. He is now director of the Committee on Better Racial Association, an organization which has been given an $80,000 grant from the state to do screening for sickle cell anemia."264
Highlander workshops played a very significant role in the development of new leadership. But with the construction of the Sea Islands center on Johns Island in 1962, local workshops were becoming an increasingly important factor. For example, when Fannie Lou Hamer returned to Mississippi from a workshop held at the Sea Islands Center on Johns Island (not incidentally, enduring a severe beating by police in a bus station on the way home), she carried with her the conviction that there must be more black candidates. She subsequently campaigned against Senator Eastland.
As another example of how leadership was spreading, Blake cited Tony Daise,
president of the Edisto Island Improvement Committee, who
never attended a workshop at Highlander, but has attended the local workshops. His major civic activities related to a door-to-door campaign to get people registered and then seeing that the registered persons get to the polls and vote. Daise estimated that at least 387 persons on Edisto were registered and that in every election all but five or six of them vote. The citizenship school has had a great effect on the island, he feels. They still conduct citizenship schools on Edisto.265
The emergence of new leaders was noted at least as early as May 1958, when as Clark recalled: "A young man, from the south end of the Island took Esau's place as PTA president. Esau no longer does all of the talking. Others are calling on public officials and speaking up in meetings."266
Elijah "Buddy" Freeman was another young man who was becoming active. He had registered to vote even though other young men laughed at him for this. Voting for President was useless, they said, because the President wasn't going to do anything for him, but Freeman said he did it because it was his right. Clark then encouraged him to attend a Highlander workshop. Freeman was later able to get some relatives interested in voting when one of his cousins got in trouble with the highway police and was about to be fined unjustly for speeding. Clark recalled how Freeman had described the event: "I went to the court that morning and talked fearlessly because I was right behind my cousin and a witness. The police asked me if I called them a liar. I said if you say my cousin was in the wrong (and I described the whole thing to the court), unless the law had changed, I know that's not true. The magistrate said 'Case dismissed.' The Negroes from that day said, 'Buddy is right, we best go get that paper,' and they did." Freeman related other efforts to get people to take seriously the responsibility of registering: "We have a judge here and he has arrested men on hearsay for stealing. I made a speech in church and told the people, 'Let's put him out next time,' and that caused others to register. There are forty homes in this community, and we have only a few men left now to get to register. My father was the hardest one, but he has registered and is as interested as I am."267
On Wadmalaw Island, Juanita Grimball, a housewife and farm worker,
seeing the success of the voting efforts on other islands, asked for help from Highlander. She came to a Highlander workshop and learned how to go about getting her community together to oppose injustice in the Magistrate's Court. They registered, voted and now have a black woman as head of the precinct and a black man on the school board. The food stamp van comes over and is operated by a black man.268
And there were others: the Reverend Snodgrass in Huntsville, Alabama; John McFeerin in Fayette County, Tennessee; and Ben Mack of South Carolina. They came to Highlander workshops and went back to organize and teach in their communities. "Highlander training and voter registration paid off all through the South."269
Some reference has already been made to Hosea Williams, whose work had impact over a broad area. Clark recalls that she and Robinson had heard of him at a beauticians' convention in the late fifties and had gone to Savannah to meet with him. Trained as a chemist, he reacted strongly against discriminatory practices and had been holding meetings to promote voter registration as a first step to eliminating segregation. Invited to come to a Highlander workshop, he arrived with a plan for citizenship schools in eighteen counties. At his request, some 500 sets of Highlander materials were produced and turned over to him. After three weeks of intensive training in Savannah under his supervision, 900 persons were registered in one week. In short order, lunchrooms, theaters and other public places were desegregated. His civic leadership is continuing.270
Obviously, there is no readily feasible way of identifying all those graduates of citizenship schools and leader training workshops who achieved significant levels of civic competence and service. But thinking back over those she had known personally, Septima Clark recalled several examples: two elected sheriffs; the chairman of the District of Columbia Board of Education; and a woman who decided to go to college and, after earning a baccalaureate degree, became director of eighteen Head Start centers in Charleston. How much the achievement of these persons was a result of their CEP experience it is difficult to say, but there has been ample evidence of the contribution of such workshop programs to the growth of new understanding, the setting of new goals and the increased motivation to action.
Subsequent to his original field interviews in 1967, Herman Blake returned several times to the Charleston area. He reported that Bill Saunders had become "one of the most effective leaders in the county, and the incipient rift among the established leaders and the young turks has been healed. Saunders was the chief architect and mastermind of the recent strike of hospital workers in Charleston.... The success of the strike has given them new confidence in their ability to produce social change. In my last visit I saw Saunders training youth in the same way he was trained by Horton, Clark, and Mr. Jenkins, who sat on the side and observed with deep pleasure as the young people took the lead."271
Commenting on the continuing contact between older leaders (specifically Esau Jenkins and Septima Clark) and the younger militants, Myles Horton observed that this was one of the few instances of such a relationship.272 Several years later, I asked Horton again about the remarkable fact that leaders differing in age and style could still work together over many years--remarkable because of the contrast with the pattern in the Mexican-American community, where, in the struggle for power there had developed an intolerance of differences and conflict about who was truly Chicano. Commenting on the contrast, Horton said: "The blacks have not tended to tear each other apart. Their consciousness of oppression has consolidated their attitudes of support for striving. And they allow each to strive in his own way."273 This is not to say that there were no differences about goals, strategy and tactics, only that a community organizing effort was less likely to be destroyed because of internecine struggle.
Sources of Leadership. The conviction held by Horton and Clark that leaders exist everywhere and at every level has already been detailed. But not every such leader was prepared to lead in any and every situation. Some preferred to believe that blacks did not deserve to share in the benefits enjoyed by whites. When a black Methodist preacher spoke against Jenkins's program on the ground that it was white man's business, Jenkins went to his presiding elder and asked him to put pressure on the preacher not to fight progress for blacks.
Another man was fighting the program because he was afraid. Clark made several trips to Johns Island in an effort to persuade him to come to Highlander, but even after a brief stay there, he was still fearful and did not attend meetings on the island. Finally, he started attending NAACP meetings in Charleston, but it was three years before he was willing to join in the effort on the island.274 Some individuals looked to the educated members of the black community for leadership. But at a Highlander workshop on integration, when the question was raised about whether teachers would be likely to play a leadership role in an integration effort, it was generally agreed that they would not. They would prefer to have things go on as they were rather than risk the unknown,
It was not only fear of physical violence that inhibited participants but of loss of employment, loss of the fruits of the individual struggle to get ahead. This was a factor not only with many teachers but many preachers as well. An example of a failure to take a stand can be noted from 1958, when Jenkins attempted to get the list of Democratic Club delegates reconsidered because no blacks were included. He arranged beforehand with a minister to second his motion, but when the time came, the minister sat silent and the motion died. The issue was closed for two more years.275
The contribution of ministers has been mixed. Many ministers and black church organizations played a very significant role in the whole movement in the South to bring blacks into the mainstream of American life. But there were others who were afraid of losing their posts or who identified with those in power and not with their own people. Much less well known as a potential leadership group were the beauticians. We have noted that Bernice Robinson, teacher of the first CEP citizenship school, was a beautician. She invited other beauticians to come to workshops at Highlander, and in January 1961, Highlander announced a workshop "to explore the opportunities offered in the beautician's profession for promoting justice and equality in the South." The announcement continued: "The requirements now are for a new kind of leadership which is voluntary, and which can speak out openly, hold office in community organizations for integration, and publicly promote the cause.... The beauticians came to see that their profession enjoyed complete freedom; therefore, they could be active in civil rights."276 In short, the beauty salon could be a center of communication and influence. Whatever the origins of the leaders, Highlander believed that training was necessary. They saw the workshop experience as essential if leaders were to understand the problems confronting them, to recognize that many problems were common to many communities, and to develop a commitment to action. And they realized that there must also be follow-up training after their return to the community.277
It is not necessary at this point to summarize Highlander's achievements. I will rather underscore what seem to me to have been the factors which were involved in these achievements. Fundamental to them was the belief that people concerned with some problem could learn to think their way through to a solution providing they were allowed the freedom and encouraged to do so. The problems brought to a Highlander workshop were real. The freedom to work out a solution acceptable to participants was real as well. The process was genuine. And the contributions of all participants to solving the problems brought by each, contributions offered in a climate of free discussion, provided powerful support to the process. The process encouraged bringing out the best in people, stretching their imaginations.278
Participants could return to their communities with new insights, with a recognition of the fact that they were not alone, with renewed hope, and with a commitment to solve their problems. This was the experience of Septima Clark and Esau Jenkins when they returned to Johns Island to begin a new approach to the problem of disenfranchisement. And good people from Highlander, who were committed to dealing with what was real, came to help them. But nothing was imposed. The bricks that went into the program structure were locally produced so that the structure became their own. The islanders' enthusiasm for it ignited parallel concerns elsewhere. The citizenship education program was replicated over much of the South. And it continues today.
1. Highlander Folk School, established in 1932, lost its charter in 1961. Its property at Monteagle, Tennessee, was confiscated primarily on the grounds of its violation of the segregation statute of the state of Tennessee. This law was held to apply because Highlander Folk School, being a private school, was presumed not subject to Brown vs. Board of Education. On appeal to the State Supreme Court, the state dropped the main charge of violating the segregation statute. Hence, the ground for a further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was eliminated. Conviction on the basis of the secondary charges (selling commodities with out a license) was upheld and the school's charter revoked. However, a new charter was applied for and granted under the name of Highlander Research and Education Center, under which it continued to operate in Knoxville until moving to New Market, Tennessee.
2. The SCLC Citizenship Education Program, which took over from Highlander in 1961, was supported primarily by the Field Foundation. The Field Foundation had also contributed other significant sums over a period of years to Highlander, including support for Highlander's workshops on school integration in 1953, anticipating the Supreme Court decision of 1954.
3. Aimee 1. Horton, "The Highlander Folk School: A History of the Development of Its Major Programs Related to Social Movements in the South, 1932-1961," doctoral dissertation, Dept. of Education, University of Chicago, Dec. 1970.
4. Frank Adams, Unearthing Seeds of Fire: The Idea of Highlander (Winston-Salem, N.C.: John Blair Press, 1975).
5. Septima Poinsette Clark, with Segette Blythe, Echo in My Soul (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1962), p. 125.
6. Horton, abstract of dissertation, p. 5.
7. Ibid., p. 6.
8. Ibid., p. 7.
9. "Notes on Community Leadership Training Program," 1954, p. 1, Highlander Files. (Note: Highlander files have been deposited in the Social Action Collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.)
10. Conversation between Tjerandsen and Myles Horton, Nov. 24, 1969, ESF files.
11. Aimee Horton, dissertation, p. 13.
12. Ibid., p. 15.
13. Application to the ESF, March 26, 1953, Proposal 1, ESF files,
14. A three-year renewal grant was made in the amount of $56,150. A special leader training grant of $11,503 specified to citizenship schools in Georgia was made in April 1961. A grant of $15,000 was made to prepare a final report, but due to illness, the report was never produced by the person who had been paid to do so.
15. Recommendations to the trustees of the ESF from the Committee on Education for American Citizenship of the University of Chicago, April 27, 1953, pp. 41-42, ESF files.
16. From minutes of Highlander staff meeting, Nov. 21, 1953, ESF files.
17. The "down here" referred to a diagram drawn on a blackboard by Horton to illustrate his remarks to a workshop at Highlander.
18. Remarks by Myles Horton, Highlander Citizenship School Workshop, Feb. 19-21, 1961, ESF files.
19. J. Herman Blake, "Citizen Participation, Democracy and Social Change," a report to the ESF, Dec. 1969, p. 25, ESF files.
20. Aimee I. Horton, An Analysis of Selected Programs for the Training of Civil Rights and Community Leaders in the South, Cooperative Research Project No. S-291, Fisk University (with the Office of Education, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare), pp. 10-11, ESF files.
21. Recommendations to the trustees of the ESF, p. 43.
22. The "whole community" approach contemplates that the goal should be for anyone or everyone to be involved. William Biddle's Community Dynamics Program, once located in Earlham College, would seem to fall into this category. One characteristic of this approach is that it cannot readily handle issues or problems on which the community might split. It can only deal with "safe" issues in such situations. The "whole community" approach will be discussed further below.
23. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 27, 1972, ESF files. 24. Staff report, week of Jan. 12, 1954, ESF files.
25. From Herman Blake's field notes based on Highlander files, ESF files.
26. Field trip report for Oct. 4-5, 1953, ESF files.
27. Blake, "Citizen Participation," p. 26.
28. Myles Horton, application to the ESF, April 30, 1956, p. 4.
29. Myles Horton, address at Lackawanna Citizens Project Conference, July 1958, ESF files.
30. Application to the ESF, April 30, 1956, p. 3.
31. Myles Horton, address at Lackawanna conference.
32. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 27, 1972, ESF files.
33. Application to the ESF, April 30, 1956, p. 3.
34. Myles Horton, progress report to the ESF, March 24, 1958, ESF files.
35. Application to the ESF, April 30, 1956, p. 3.
36. Notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, May 11, 1972, ESF files. This statement needs a minor qualification. Notes from an interview with Myles Horton on Feb. 19, 1959, indicate that the Appalachian Fund had given $10,000 for each of three years to support a committee on economic development. Several members of the Sevier County group were working on this program which was a direct outgrowth of the Highlander Project. Evidently, however, there was no further development from this latter activity.
37. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 1968, ESC files.
38. The farms were small and provided only a meager economic base. But they permitted a degree of independence which allowed more opportunity for voter registration activity than was tolerated in some Southern communities.
39. Anna Kelly was executive secretary of the Charleston YWCA (black branch) and a coworker with Septima Clark in Charleston's black community.
40. From tape of proceedings, 1954 workshop on the United Nations, ESF files.
43. On Oct. 30, 1972, Esau Jenkins died as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident. That the struggle to gain greater participation for blacks in civil life suffered a great blow in the loss of this folk leader will be evident from what follows in this chapter. It was one measure of his achievement that so many political figures, black and white, made it a point "to be visible at his funeral" (Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, June 1974, ESF files).
44. Aimee Horton, An Analysis, p. 94.
45. Esau Jenkins, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 20, 1963,
46. Aimee Horton, "The Highlander Folk School: Pioneer of Integration in the South," Teachers College Record, 68(3) (Dec. 1966).
47. "Summary of Community Leadership Training Activities Involving Esau Jenkins, Johns Island, S.C., Through March 1955," p. 1, ESF files.
48. Ibid., p. 3.
49. The terms "Civic Club" and "Citizens Club" are both used in Highlander reports in 1954 and 1955 as names for the larger membership organization on Johns Island. The term "Citizens Club" appears to be correct.
50. "Summary of Community Leadership Training Activities Involving Esau Jenkins," p. 4, ESF files,
51. Myles Horton, report on trip to Johns Island, Oct. 17-20, 1955, ESF files.
52. "Index of Developments on Johns Island," July 22, 1955, ESF files.
53. Myles Horton, notes of conference with Septima Clark, March 18, 1955, in Charleston, ESF files.
54. Myles Horton, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 27, 1972, ESF files.
56. Septima Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF files.
57. Myles Horton, field trip report, Dec. 11-13, 1954, pp. 6-7, ESF files.
58. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 27, 1972, ESF files.
59. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF files.
60. Myles Horton, field trip report, Dec. 11-13, 1954, p. 7, ESF files.
61. "Index of Developments on Johns Island," July 22, 1955, p. 1, ESF files.
62. Myles Horton, field trip report, Dec. 11-14, 1954, p. 8, ESF files.
63. "Summary of Community leadership Training Activities Involving Esau Jenkins," p. 5, ESF files,
64. "Index of Developments on Johns Island," p. 2, ESF files.
65. Ibid., p. 2.
66. Myles Horton, tentative outline for an analysis of a rural community leadership training program, Feb. 1955, p. 5, ESF files.
67. Myles Horton, notes of meeting with Clark, March 18, 1955, ESF files.
69. Notes on leadership training, Charleston, March 19, 1955, ESF files,
71. Myles Horton, transcript of conversation with Clark, Highlander, May 1959, ESF files.
72, Clark, report to Myles Horton, June 1, 1955, ESF files.
73. Myles Horton, report on planning meeting for series of workshops in Charleston County, Oct. 19, 1955, ESP files_
74, Notes of meeting to plan workshop, Dec. 3, 1955, ESF files.
77. Myles Horton, notes on Johns Island workshop, Feb. 5, 1956, ESF files.
78. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF files.
79. Myles Horton, conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 24, 1969, ESF files.
80. Myles Horton, conversation with Tjerandsen, Highlander Center, Oct. 27, 1972, ESF files.
82. Myles Horton, undated memo to Tjerandsen, 1974, ESF files.
83. Myles Horton, letter to Tjerandsen, Feb. 16, 1957, ESF files.
84. Untitled transcript of Highlander workshop discussion, 1957, p. 2, ESF files.
85. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 141.
86. Ibid., pp. 141-42.
87. Bernice Robinson, undated letter to Tjerandsen, fall 1974, ESF files. 88. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 147,
89. Ibid., p. 150.
90. These were first prepared by Robinson and Clark for the Southeastern Crusade for Voters project in Savannah funded by ESF in 1961. Subsequently, they were revised and printed by the SCLC under the title "Citizenship Booklet." Bernice Robinson, undated letter to Tjerandsen, fall 1974, ESF files_
91. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 154.
92, Clark, notes on field trip to Sea Islands, March 10, 1958, ESF files.
93. Clark, staff discussion, May 1959, ESF files. Note: Writing in 1974 about her part in the first citizenship school and many schools thereafter, Robinson spoke of enduring the birth pains of Jenkins' dream: "I had no idea that it would be so successful that it would be carried on all over the South and North and also become the base for political and economic growth of blacks. All 1 knew at the time was that these people wanted to learn and I was going to find a way to teach them...."
94. Myles Horton and Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 10, 1958, ESF files.
96. From transcript of meeting including Clark, Jenkins and others, Charleston, S.C., Feb. 17, 1959, ESF files.
97. Myles Horton, report of visit to the Sea Islands, Jan. 1958, ESF files.
98. Clark, report of field trip, March 13, 1958, ESF files.
99. Myles Horton, letter to Maxwell Hahn, Oct. 29, 1958, ESF files.
100. Myles Horton, report of visit to the Sea Islands, Jan. 1958, ESF files.
101. Myles Horton, report of visit to Sea Islands, Jan. 30, 1958, ESF files.
102. Clark, notes of "Trip To Charleston, Wadmalaw, St. Helena and Hilton Head, April 20-27, 1958," ESF files.
103. Most of the black men on Wadmalaw worked at the fertilizer plant in Charleston. Although the Smelter Workers Union announced a registration campaign, the results showed little effect (Myles Horton, field trip report, Dec. 11-13, 1954, p. 3, ESF files).
104. Highlander report on the Sea Islands program, Jan-.July 1959, ESF files.
105. Clark, remarks at anniversary program, March 18, 1973, ESF files.
106. Clark, report on trip to the island of St. Helena, March 10, 1958, ESF files.
107. Myles Horton, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 27, 1972, ESF files.
108. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 160.
109. Sea island report, ESF flies.
111. Juanita Jackson, Sabra Slaughter and J. Herman Blake, "The Sea Islands as a Cultural Resource," Black Scholar, March 1974, pp. 37-38.
112. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 195.
113. Oct. 2, 1958, ESF files.
114. Clark, report of trip to the Sea Islands, Feb. 1958, ESF files.
115. Clark, notes on leadership development in-connection with the Charleston Heights workshop, Sept. 22, 1958, ESF files.
116. Clark, notes on conversation with Maxwell Hahn, Charleston, S.C., Feb. 6, 1959, ESF files.
117. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 162.
118. Report of conversation, Horton, Clark and Justine Wise Polier, May 1959, ESF files.
119. Application to the Foundation dated May 21, 1956, ESF files.
120. Myles Horton, letter to Tjerandsen, May 7, 1958, ESF riles.
121. Blake, "Citizen Participation," pp. 57-61.
122. Horton, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 27, 1972, ESF files.
123. Chessie Harris, letter to Clark, May 1960, ESF files.
124. Aimee Horton, An Abstract, December 1970, p. 17.
125. Later, the charge of violation of the segregation statute was dropped, thereby forstalling an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
126. Aimee Horton, dissertation, p. 294.
127. At this writing, Highlander had moved from Knoxville to quarters in New Market, Tennessee.
128. Myles Horton, "Memorandum on Citizenship School Training Program," Dec. 1960, p. 2, ESF files.
129. Highlander Folk School, "Citizenship School Training Program," Nov. 19,1960, p. 3.
130. Highlander Reports, 29th Annual Report, Oct. 1, 1960-Sept. 30, 1961, p. 2.
131. "Workshop on Training Leaders for Citizenship Schools," Jan. 19-21, 1961, p. 1, ESF files.
132. Ibid„ p. 2
133. Ibid., p. 5.
134. Myles Horton and Clark, "Citizenship School Training Program." SCLC, 1961, ESF files.
135. Clark, "Recent Developments in 'The Citizenship School Idea,"' Sept. 25, 1960, p. 3, ESF files.
136. Application from Highlander Folk School, April 6, 1961, ESF files.
137. Eleven years later, Hosea Williams ran fourth in a field of fifteen candidates in the Democratic primary for a seat in the U.S. Senate from Georgia (Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 10, 1972).
138. Hosea Williams, Southeastern Georgia Crusade for Voters Annual Report for 1963 and 1964, ESF files.
139. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 27, 1972, ESF files.
140. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF files.
141. Field Foundation funds were used to finance this initial expansion. Support from the Field Foundation for such purpose was still being given in 1969 (Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 24, 1969, ESF files).
142. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Leadership Training Program and Citizenship Schools" (undated memo but sometime after October 1960).
143, The Reverend Andrew Young was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia on November 7, 1972. Subsequently, he represented the United States as Ambassador to the United Nations.
144. Myles Horton, memorandum on citizenship program, June 26, 1961, p. 2, ESF files.
145. In 1963, James Forman and John Lewis, who later became director of the Southern Regional Council Voter Registration Program, asked Myles Horton to set up an educational program on voter registration. (This is to be distinguished from the training program for SNCC staff initiated in 1961.) He agreed to train staff to organize such a program and to serve as a consultant, but he thought it inappropriate for Highlander to take responsibility which SNCC itself should assume. (SNCC did begin to run workshops on its own, and by 1965, at Horton's urging, SNCC had established its own education department.) In November 1963, plans were made for a major training thrust: "to use the summer of 1964 to strengthen leadership among blacks who would be living in Mississippi long after the summer was over." A concomitant theme of this planning involved strategy discussions concerning the challenge to be directed by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party against the all-white delegation to the National Democratic Convention in August 1964. These developments provide further evidence of the power of the Highlander citizenship program to serve the needs of an emerging black electorate in the South (Adams, Unearthing Seeds of Fire, pp. 167-68).
146. Ibid., p. 167.
147. Robinson, "Mississippi Voter Education Report," July 19, 1962, ESF files.
148. Robinson, letter to Myles Horton, March 25, 1963, ESF files.
149.That is, a person trained in the SCLC citizenship training program at Dorchester Center in Mackintosh, Georgia.
150. Robinson, "Mississippi Delta Highlander Extension Report," May 6, 1963, ESF files.
151. Robinson, "Report on Mississippi Voter Registration and Political Education Workshops," July 5, 1963, ESF files.
152. Highlander Reports, Three-Year Report, Aug. 28, 1961-Dec. 31, 1964, Highlander Research and Education Center, Knoxville.
154. Clark, report on Edwards Workshop of Sept. 21-24, 1965, Mt. Beulah Center, Edwards, Miss., ESF files.
155. Clark, letter to A. J. Porter, April 17, 1961, ESF files.
156. Highlander Center, summary of programs, Sept. 6, 1962-March 24, 1963, ESF files.
157. Report on Haywood County voter workshops, April 1-10, 1964, ESF files.
158. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Sept. 14, 1963, ESF files.
159. Robinson and Jenkins, "Report of South-wide Voter Education Internship Program, September 30 through October 26, p. 1, 1958, ESF files.
160. Proposed South-wide Voter Education Project, agenda, board of directors, Highlander Center, March 30, 1963, ESF files.
161. Highlander Reports, Three-Year Report.
162, Jenkins, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 20, 1963, ESF files.
163. Blake, "Citizen Participation," p. 47.
164. Bernice Robinson, Report of 1965 South-wide Voter Education Project at Sea Island Progressive Club Center, ESF files.
165. Blake, "Citizen Participation," p. 47.
166. Highlander Reports, Three-Year Report.
168. Highlander Workshop News, 2(1) (Nov. 1965), p. 1, mimeo.
169. CEP Annual Report, 1963-1964, SCLC, p. 8.
170. Blake, "Citizen Participation," pp. 47-48.
171. Clark, notes of conversation with Herman Blake, Aug. 23, 1967, ESF files.
172. Robinson, notes of conversation with Herman Blake, Aug. 25, 1967, ESF files.
173. Highlander Center, announcement of city, county and state black candidates workshop, June 1924, 1966, ESF files.
174. Dr. B. R. Brazeal, memo to supporters of Highlander Center, June 1962, ESF files.
175. Clark, South Carolina (CEP Report), July 1, 1962-June 30, 1963, ESF files.
176. By using a teacher from the peer group, he could continue to work with his group in the community; ibid.
177. Bernice Robinson recalls that Maxwell Hahn, executive director of the Field Foundation, spent a week in January 1959 watching her teach a citizenship class each night: one each on Wadmalaw, Edisto and Johns islands and two in North Charleston. The result was a decision to fund the program, which funding continued until 1970 (Robinson, undated note to Tjerandsen, fall 1974, ESF files).
178. Fred Powledge, "Citizen?--Class Probes and Takes Steps to Voting," Atlanta Journal, March 24, 1963.
179. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, April 20, 1973, ESF files.
180. Dorothy Cotton, "Citizenship Education Project, Semi-Annual Report to the Field
Foundation." July 1, 1962 to Jan. 31, 1963, pp. 23, ESF files.
181. Tjerandsen notes from SCLC workshop, Penn Community Center, Nov. 19, 1963, ESF files.
182. Outline of leader training workshop for citizenship schools, Jan. 1961, ESF files.
183. Clark, report to board of directors, Highlander Research and Education Center, May 14, 1965, ESF files.
185. With the passage of the Voter Registration Act of 1965, would-be voters could no longer be required to read difficult and abstruse passages of the Constitution as a prerequisite to registration.
186. Citizenship schools had been held in all forty-two counties. Registered black voters increased from 57,000 in 1962, to 225,000 in 1972 (Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 22, 1972, ESF files).
187. Robinson, Meeting of the Board of Directors, Highlander Research and Education Center, May 14, 1965, ESF files.
189. SCLC staff report on CEP training workshop, Oct. 1966, ESF files.
190. Ibid. (See addendum to report.)
191. Aimee Horton, An Analysis, pp. 104-07.
192. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF files.
193. Clark, memorandum to Martin Luther King, Jr., Dec. 12, 1963, ESF files.
194. Clark, conversation with Blake, Aug. 23, 1967, ESF files.
195. Clark, conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 22, 1972, ESF files.
196. In an account of an SCLC workshop reported in the Atlanta Journal,
reference was made to "a little old lady from Clinch County" who finished
her course, went home and started sending reports claiming 300 registered
voters. Investigation showed she had indeed done so, organizing thirteen
registration schools in her home town.
197. SCLC Report for 1961-1965, mimeo, ESF files.
198. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF files.
199. Leslie W. Dunbar and Wiley A. Branton, First Annual Report of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council, Inc., April 1, 1962 through March 31, 1963, p. 3, ESF files.
200. Vernon Jordan at National Convention of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Afro-American (Baltimore, Md.), Aug. 23, 1969.
201. Southern Patriot, Feb. 1973 (quoting the SRC/VEP).
202. New York Times dispatch in San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 25, 1977, p. 26.
203. Afro-American (Baltimore, Md.), Dec. 5, 1970.
204. The interested reader wishing to review the rationale for this view is directed to Aimee Horton's dissertation which examined this question in relation to several movements to which Highlander had addressed itself.
205. R. Elizabeth Johns, "Refinement by Fire," publication of the SCLC-CEP, 1963.
206. Myles Horton, "Community Organization in Rural Tennessee," transcript of address at conference on community organization, Lackawanna, N.Y., July 45, 1958, pp. 12, ESF files.
207. Myles Horton, letter to John Thompson, April 2, 1959, ESF files.
208. Myles Horton, "Community Organization," p. 3.
209. Quoted from brochure Today's Highlander Program, winter 1969-1970, ESF files.
210. MyLes Horton, report of conversation at Highlander, May 1959, ESF files.
211. Myles Horton, in "Highlander Folk School," by Judith P. Gregory, Catholic Worker, April-May 1959.
212. Frank Adams, "Education for Social Change," Highlander Research and Education Center, March 1971, p. 3, ESF files.
213. Myles Horton, notes of conversation at Highlander Folk School with Clark and others, May 1959, p. 18, ESF files.
214. Myles Horton, notes of discussions at Southern Student Organizing Committee workshop at Highlander Center, Aug. 28 Sept. 3, 1965, ESF files.
215. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, June 19, 1974, ESF files. Saul Alinsky often expressed the same view
216. Clark, conversation with Tjerandsen, April 16, 1973, ESF files.
217. The transfer took place when it did because of the school's legal difficulties but would have happened sooner or later in any case for the reason given.
218. Myles Horton, transcript of remarks at 1954 workshop, ESF files.
219. Myles Horton, "Community Organization," p. 9.
220. Blake, "Citizen Participation," p. 35.
221. Aimee Horton, An Analysis, p. 141.
222. Ibid., p. 145.
223. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 183.
224. Myles Horton, "It's a Miracle--Still Don't Believe It," Phi Delta Kappan, May 1966, pp. 491-92.
225. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 24, 1969, ESF files.
226. Aimee Horton, An Analysis, p. 146.
227. Ibid., p. 151.
228. Nancy Gough, "A South Carolina Public School Teacher Tells Her People About Highlander," Sept. 1, 1954, mimeo, ESF files.
229. Aimee Horton, An Analysis, p. 29.
230. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 178.
231. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 24, 1969, ESF files.
233. Kermit Eby, "The `Drip Theory' in Labor Unions," Antioch Review, 13(1) (March 1953), p. 97.
234. Myles Horton, "It's a Miracle," p. 491.
235. Myles Horton, opening remarks, experimental citizenship school workshop, Feb. 19-21, 1961, ESF files.
236. Myles Horton, "It's a Miracle," p. 493.
237. Ibid., p. 492.
238. George F, Kearney, Ledger-Syndicate (Phila.).
239. The bulk of the Highlander Folk School files have been transferred to the Contemporary Social Action Collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.
240. In Sevier County, Tennessee (Kodak), an awareness of the existence of problems was more generally shared in the community. One problem which concerned a number of people was dissatisfaction with the market for dairy products. Perhaps the community's proximity to Knoxville made it easier than in Altoona to handle new ideas. And there was a local resident who wanted to do something--Max Cate, an insurance man with the Farmers' Union. With help from Highlander, he was able to involve others, and, together, they realized some important gains. But as Horton said later, the final test of a good organizing effort was not met: the example was not picked up by others.
241. Jenkins, quoted in Guy and Candie Carawan, Ain't You Got a Right to the Tree of Life? (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966), p. 164; "I emphasize the word 'progressive' which mean look upward, do something better" ibid., p. 172.
242. Jenkins, quoted in ibid., p. 85.
243. Reverend G. C. Brown, quoted in ibid., pp. 15 859. 244. Jenkins, quoted in ibid, p. 159.
245. News and Courier (Charleston, S.C.), July 28, 1968. 246. Aimee Horton, dissertation, pp. 271-72.
247. Myles Horton, letter to Tjerandsen, June 20, 1955, ESF files.
248. Annual Report for 1955-1956, Highlander Folk School, treated in Aimee Horton, dissertation, p. 275.
249. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Sept. 14, 1963, ESF files.
250. Myles Horton, "Community Organization," pp. 15-16.
251. Ibid., p. 17.
252. Myles Horton, notes of conversation at Highlander Folk School with Clark and others, May 1959, p. 11, ESF files.
253. Ibid., p. 12, ESF files.
254. Blake, "Citizen Participation," p. 68.
255. Clark, Echo in My Soul, p. 77.
256. Ibid., p. 81.
257. Ibid., p. 82.
258. Ibid., p. 134.
259. Blake, "Citizen Participation," p. 34.
260. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, June 19, 1974, ESF files.
261. Blake, "Citizen Participation," pp. 61-62.
262. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF
263. Blake, "Citizen Participation," pp. 62-64.
264. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF
265. Blake, "Citizen Participation," p. 57.
266. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, May 1958, ESF files.
267. Clark, notes of interview with Elijah Freeman, June 21, 1955, ESF files.
268. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF files.
271. Blake, "Citizen Participation," p. 72.
272. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Nov. 24, 1969, ESF files.
273. Myles Horton, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, June 19, 1974, ESF files.
274. Based on transcription of meeting at Clark's home in Charleston, Feb. 17, 1959, ESF files.
275. Clark, field report, March 13, 1958, ESF files.
276. Clark, notes of conversation with Tjerandsen, Oct. 31, 1972, ESF files.
277. Application from Highlander Folk School to the ESF, May 21, 1956,
278. Myles Horton, quoted in Aimee Horton, An Analysis, p. 14, ESF files.