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Hurston, Z.N. signed typewritten letter to Mary Holland, Merritt Island, Fla. (3p. 8 1/2 x 11). Thoughts on Pepper and Z...
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00009755/00067
Finding Guide: A Guide to the Zora Neale Hurston Papers
 Material Information
Title: Hurston, Z.N. signed typewritten letter to Mary Holland, Merritt Island, Fla. (3p. 8 1/2 x 11). Thoughts on Pepper and Zora's termination at the library.
Series Title: Correspondence
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Publication Date: 1957, June 27
Physical Location:
Box: 2
Folder: 90
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Hurston, Zora Neale
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: AA00009755:00067

Full Text





Box 75, Route #2
Merritt Island, Florida
June 27, 1957.



Dear Miz' Marys

I am living in a house-trailer out here on the
Island, which I arm Some you know all about. It's peculiar climate
so tropical for this farr north in Florida and it's plentiful mos.
quitoes here gotten m~uch publicity.

So alad to hear from you, Perhaps it is only a
coincidence and not really Extra Sensory Perception, but I was
contemrpleting writing you myself, I see by the papers that Ex-
Senator Chrude Pepper is beginning to circulate around which
arouses the suspicion in me that he hopes to get the nomination to
oppose your husband. As was proved during his campaign against
Senator Smathers, the man is abstiffically a fraud, Just another of
those o-Irocrtunist wlho go for liberal" ( the word ought really to
be spelled a liperal" or just lippe~r'! so far as this race business
is concerned. I worked hard and effectively~ egaisnt Pepper' in
H'iemi, where he would naturally pull a heavy Negro vote. I pointed
out that he was nothing but talk, Spicy to listen to, but no sub-.
stance to the thing, r-d finally boiled it down to the slogan, You
cant makce a meal off of Pep- er." The NAA~CP is quite annoyed w~ith
me because I continue to insist that they arse working on the wrong
end of the Negro, All their fights boil down to a matter of .seats.
IBowing conditions as I do, I clamor that improvements should -s-ta~t
on the other end, Let us learn more about a better, a higher and
cleaner way of life and all other things will follow, Let us not
concern ourselves so much. about where we are going to sit, but
rather twhat we are going to DO to contribute to the welfare of this
nation. Be givers and not receivers only, That is the only answer,
a~nd eventually we will be drivren to it whether we will or not.


I have been concerned in another matter of which race plays
only a minor part. From June 18, 1956 iiay 10, 1957 I was a
librarian st Technical L:Ebrry at Patrick Air Force Base. Th~ee
was a peculiar Stituation there which put me on the spot almost
immediately, The Government has said that there must bo no dis-
crimination in hiring on government contracts. I was hired without
any trouble. What gave me trouble'was not my race so much as the
average education Twhich I ha.Ye, M"ore and more the educational
standards elum~ped hich made me with an A.B. from Columbia U.
stick out like a sore thumb, Mrs. Eva Lynd, a Southerner, who is
now employed in Celifornia, hig~hly appreciated my abilities. They
were after her already, she being a gSradua~te of California Tech.
The excuse for firing her was shameful. They knew that I was her
friend, and then went after me. The Supervisor when I went to work:
was Melvin Benne~tt. MWe, Lyn reported a breach, of security on his
part, The investigation turneduphahewsotnlgilyo
destroying classified papers without the reqire wit ness buity more








than 800 classified documents were unaccounted for. The Air Force
fina-lly went over the head of Pan American and -ired him. It is a
long and not-so-nice story of wJhy it was necesary for the AP` to do
so, That came about early in October, 1956, Believe it or not,
a m~anWamed Robert Allen, who not only knew nothing about library
science, but was merely a higth school graduate, and a poor sample
of that, was now made Supervisor of Technical Library. All of these
poorly educated folk in the library w~ho rated first under Mrs. Lynd
and then under myself, were in a rage, Not with Allen, since he was
one; with them in every way, but against Wer, Lynd for reporting the
breach of security, which Elogans all1 over the Base urges every loyal
American employee to do. All around I could hear that Mres, Lynd was
" not to be trusted." So I asked one day what was tis a branch
of the U.S. government or a Communist cell or the Black Hand society?
What was there to hide from government officials? Further, Mrs.
Liynd had not gotten Bennet :fired, If the breach had not been proved,
if those classified documents could be accounted for, nothing that
MP~rs, Lynd had said would have mattered. I first got hold of the
information from the Secretary of Addiscott that Pks, Lynd was going
to be done awray with. It was already being set up in Plermning's
office, (Vice President of ?an Am. ) Sur enough, Allen came to Mrs.
ZLynd later and told her that he wanted her to re-catalog all the
books in the library according to a way that "we" like better. We"
meant EbrIaia :Dussich, a woman of Italia~n birth, viho complained to me
that even history was to hard for her in high school, but who had
gotten in the L~ibra~ry on the lowest classification and was put on
as receptionist, An ignorant M~achivelli end Lucrezia Borgia rolled
into one, IEls, Lynd was naturally both astoni hed and outraged
to be orderec to re-catalog a library to their specifications, and
indignantly refused. KA! Mission accomplished. EM. Addiscott
sent for her to come to his office and fired her for refusingg to
obey her supervisor, All this foolishness on government money.Now,
I could either knuckle under, be loud in my denunciation of Mvrs.
Liynd, or suffer the samne fate. I stood by my guns. I thought of
myself as the thin gray line of the ConfedenPacy of the last two
years of the struggle, 1. This was Powernment money diverted. to a purpose never intended. The Air Base was not established
tp provide salaries and advancement to the unprepared merely be-
cause they helped along unclean doings. 2 The U. S. government
never contemplated sectional diiscrimination. There I soon found a
sly latter-day Reconstruction program of crying down southernmes,
of putting in most poorly educated northerne-rs before prepared
sout erners. The intimidation had reached the point where people
from Elorth Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and K~entucky were loudly
insisting on being called Yenkees Can you beat it, Miss Mary3 But
the point is the pressure that made them cower like that. So I
ma~de a point of keeping everybody in mind that I was a E'loridian,
the implication being that as far south as I came from, I stood there
the best educated. and most cultivated person among them, They had
to forever be running to them. to explain things and find things for
those RCA technicians. In fact, the technicians would pass them by
and come to my desk of themselves, 2. The waste of government
money in hiring so many inferior, incapable people, not only in the
library*, but all over, Pan Americ-an at Patric'k is notorious for
this. The local people meke jokes about it, Naturally, a training
period before they are a~ny use is too long to be economically good,






end the turn-over is terrific. So I asked myself, why such a policy?
Saving of funds by reporting to the government one sum when a much
lower one is actually the figure? And since Pan Am was ?eing inves-
tigated. or holding out on the government on moneys from it's sub-
sidiaries, I saw that such was- possible at "he B3ase,' 3. I was
determined to test if The President's Committee on Government Con-
tracts really guerranteed ec~ual opportunity for work or was some
more p-litical hog-wash, (b) If it wordrec where the violator was a
heavy contributor to Eisenhower's, political campaign as Pan Am was.
So I kept the Committee posted from January 18 on until I was ter-
minatE~d on Maby 10. I called it to the attention of Vice-Presiden~t
Nixon himself, so that come 1958, he could not pretend that he was
not aware of what was going on. Come 1960, it would stare him, as
Eisenhower's successor star~k in the oace.

?;ay 10, 1957, I was terminated, believe it or not, for being
too well eduested Bor the job." William J. M~cK~ay, head of Office
Services which the Library is under, came up with that one. In
reality, I was being punished for continuing to be friendly with
Me~rs, Lynd, who had reported Bennet justly, end second though a married
ma~n, h~e had a girl friend w~hom he -wanted to repay for her favors at
the expense of Pan Am, which is really dispensing government funds
there. Allen End compny were only too glad to play footsie by
finding a place for his girl and one .for a girl said to belong to
Mitchell, Pres. of Pan Am at Patrick; The ma~tte had become notorious
on the Base, Possibly assuming the heavy contributions to the GOP
ca~mprign chest, it was assumed that nothing would be done about such
a flagrant; breach.

I do not tell you this because I hope for Senator Holland to
do anything to get back mry job. I do not care one way or another
about it. I have been through months of really sadistic persecution
from Hocvember 1956 on. There is something about Armed Services
Technical Information Agency documents which I shall go into htee
because it is not under any Commnittees on which the Senator serves.
I assure y~ou that I have had it, ALL I WANTfL IS PCR YOU to KNOWT IP
I;IL L2.TTER BECCrl~E PUBLIC TiLAT IT HAE NO RACIAL SI YFICklUCLL FOR
MJE, NO NAACP W~HOOPINJG A;NL HOL-ELlN~I G AT ALL, It is a matter of
loyalty to the United States and due process.

I look forward with great eagerness to your letter. I want to
hear <11 about the family and everything,


"ith faithful feeling,



Zora Neel e Hur ston