Interview with Herschel M. Kaminsky 2004-08

Material Information

Interview with Herschel M. Kaminsky 2004-08
Herschel M. Kaminsky ( Interviewee )
Paul Ortiz ( Interviewer )
Mississippi Freedom Project (MFP)
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
Oral history interview


Subjects / Keywords:
African Americans ( fast )
Mississippi Delta Freedom Project ( local )
Civil rights movements ( fast )
Oral histories ( lcgft )
Temporal Coverage:
1964 - 2004
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Mississippi


After coming a graduate degree in history at the University of Michigan, Kaminsky came as a newlywed with his wife Georgiana to teach at the Freedom School in Indianola in 1964. Jailed for trying to integrate the local movie theater, Kaminsky was involved in voter registration efforts and labor organizing. Organizations mentioned include: CORE, SNCC, Freedom Schools, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Southern Tenant Farmer’s Union, Teamsters, SDS, Child Development Group of Mississippi and the Rural Advancement Fund. People mentioned include: Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Otis Brown, McKinley Mack, Bill Hollowell, George Winter, Bright Winn, Jim Dann, Georgiana Kaminsky, Charles McLaurin, Jack Minnis, James Eastland, James Russell Lowell, Robert Cableton, ELmo Proctor, W.E.B. Du Bois, Irene Magruder, Juanita Brownlow, Zellie Rainey, Alice Giles, H. L. Mitchell, Claude Williams, Unita Blackwell, Muhammad Ali and Charlie Scattergood. Locations include: Indianola, Ruleville and Mayersville, Mississippi; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Xenia and Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Record Information

Source Institution:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Holding Location:
UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
Resource Identifier:
MFP 025 Herschel Kaminsky 8-2004 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )


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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins 241 Pugh Hall Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor O ral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, re ligious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP recommends that researchers refer t o both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF D igital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is written with careful attention to refl ect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.histor or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013


MFP 0 25 Interviewee: Hershel Kaminsky Interviewer: Dr. Paul Ortiz Date: August 2004 O: Your full name and why you are here this weekend. K: My name is Herschel M. I use my middle initial most of the time Kaminsky, K a m i n s k y. And I came here for the fortieth reunion of the Freedom Summer. I had worked in Mississippi in 1964 and [19] 65, having come here with my first wife in August, late August of 1964. In fact, we came the very weekend that the Democratic Party Convention was going involvement in social and political act ivism, and particularly in civil rights, that went back some years. At the time I came here, I was among the I guess, the older volunteers; I was all of twenty eight and I was a graduate student or, had been a graduate student, up until that point, at the University of Minnesota. In [Minneapolis], I had been active in the Congress of Racial Equality, and had served on the Twin Cities whatever, coordinating committee, executive board of CORE. It was a relatively new organization and we were involved there in a number of cases that involved the school system. I believe there were several, as many as four or five, black public schoolteachers who had had unusual difficulties getting rehired or having their contracts renewed. O: That was in St. Paul, or . ? K : This was in Minneapolis, yeah. In Minneapolis at the time. And, in fact, my off campus activity that last year in CORE had really replaced, I should say, my involvement in my studies. Earlier on, as early as . 1960, I had


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 2 organized the support demons trations for the student sit ins when they began in Greensboro, North Carolina. Had, in fact, attended the I guess it was the second SNCC conference in Atlanta, in October or November of 1960, where I had had the opportunity to meet people I had only heard about before. Who, I mean, we Dr. King was there briefly, and stepping and then moved forward. I think it would be useful to talk a little about whence my commitment to social chan ge causes and to social justice and equality sprung. I was the only son of a middle class professional couple, and I grew up because my father had lost some properties and had one property left in what was then a Depression era working class, poor neighbor hood; I grew up middle class in the midst of what was basically a recovering from the Depression until well into World War II. I had friends in the first grade who had rickets and suffer ed, really, from malnutrition, you know? And I was aware of that. It was also a neighborhood in which I was a lone Jewish kid and virtually everybody else was Catholic, Irish Catholic, except for the one black family on the block, and I believe there was I know there was an Italian family who lived just across the street from us that was non religious. So, I was quite aware of inequality from my very early years. And yet, despite the differences on our block, we had a you know, there was something of a stre et gang. Kids were organized


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 3 Irish Catholic and had a Jew and a black youngster, and, as I mentioned, this Italian who everybody thought was thought his families were, you know, co nnected with Mussolini during the war. So, I would say I had some real awareness of what inequality was. O: Did your parents talk to about inequality, or ? K: No, not so much, though they were certainly what you would call, you know, New Deal democratic li kind of acutely sensitive to these things, too, and she was involved in organizing teachers in the community. She had had to stop teaching, as people did in those days, when she had my sister was born. So, I thin k I got a good deal of my social conscience from my mother. In college, I went to an unusual college, Antioch College in the Midwest [Yellow Springs, Ohio]. I would say it was unusual for several reasons, which . having to do with the fact that, one, I think, after Oberlin the first co ed school in the Midwest, maybe in the United States, for all I know, to admit black students. Free blacks went to school there prior to the Civil War. The school was founded in 1852 or [18]53. The school in the post large number not a large, but a significant, small number of black students there. I think, at one point, with the GI Bill before I got there at least, I learned from a black senio r, whom came to New Haven where I lived and talked about the college, that there were quite a few vets, black vets, and others who went to school there. And Coretta Scott King, of


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 4 student t here, too, in the late [19]40s. And Antioch was in Southern Ohio, Brown v. Board of Ed There was some instance of school segregation, still, in the early [19]50s in Ohio. And we had it was, what? Did we have a chapter of the NAACP? I think we did, yes. We had a college chapter of the NAACP in which I was active, along with a number of others, including a friend of mine. We did sit ins in Xenia, Ohio a pretty segregated town which was the county seat, as I recall. Or, not too far away. O: This was in the late 1950s? K: No, no. This was in 1954, [19]55, yeah. It was around the time of, I think, the Montgomery Bus Boy cott. But there had been a NAACP chapter at the college NAACP youth chapter at the college before I got there. So I had that; that was a large, important part of my background, too, by the time 1964 rolled around. I had thought, in [19]61 or [19]62, I gues s, to quite committed to there were a number of people in Minneapolis who did go down early in the summer. I was married that summer and, after I was married, my wife and I went on our honeymoon,


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 5 School teache rs in Indianola. It was the tail end of the summer. People were leaving and there was a question, big question is, what to do now after the Freedom Democratic Party challenge? People coming back, coming home, many of them at least, the ones I met both trem endously energized and, at the same time, saddened and disturbed departure of a huge number of people, there w as kind of a something of a letdown and a period of, well, what shall we do next? And the people on the project, Indianola, people had worked first in Ruleville and then had having worked some weeks in Ruleville. And we continued doing things in the Freedom School, having classes with the kids. And the young people, in particular, wanted to do a lot more. I think only a matter of a few days after I arrived, a number of people, includ ing Otis and Otis Brown and McKinley Mack wanted to go down and integrate the local movie theater. That resulted in my a number of us getting arrested, including myself, and I spent the next three days shaking in my boots in the white cell in the local jai l. [Laughter] And with everyone, the other whites who three other whites confined there who were talking about the damn Freedom Riders. I passed myself off, I had some mustache. I was wearing I think I had a Army Surplus or military fatigues


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 6 and a light military jacket, something. So I kind of passed, I believe, I passed myself off as what, I cannot remember. But I remained silent, particularl y whenever the local see how everybody was doing, I think it was the Sheriff, it was Bill Hollowell. He would come and not even blink at me, but he knew who I was, and I think, from what I learned about Hollowell l ater on since he had FBI training and was supposed to represent this new, more, what can we say? Responsible breed of Mississippi lawmen, believe it or not. [Laughter] Okay. He had taken on that special training with the FBI for something like six months, so he probably was fairly concerned about he had made the decision to put this newcomer in with the whites, where as [George Winter], Fred Winn and, I think, Jim Dann were in the cel ls where the black kids were. I think the there were a number of, well, in particular, one or two terrible things happened in the first few months I was there. And we saw, both my wife and I, became acutely aware of the difference between what poverty I ha d seen as a youngster growing up in Connecticut and then, you know, other parts of the country where I had lived and sometimes worked and gone to college and Mississippi poverty. I had never been south except further south from Baltimore, with the excepti on of that one trip to Atlanta in late 1960 for just a weekend. And there were a couple of children who had clearly died of malnutrition or something related to that, little


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 7 were infants, newborns. Not quite newborns. And I do r emember our taking a collection to arrange to have them a proper, modest funeral, which I think the local undertaker provided for a small fee. Then, in October I guess, the way I tend to recall things are by the crises. m ost of the time, what were we doing in those early months, toward the end of the year? Oh, yes. Now I do remember. There was a big thrust to organize people for a huge, and a huge, a large demonstration to attempt to register to vote at the time the Congre ss was going to open in January of 1965. We put a lot of effort into that, mostly through talking to people and going house to house, but even more importantly trying having mass meetings, what were called mass meetings every week in the Freedom School. Du ring one of those mass meetings, there was some kind of Molotov cocktail was dropped from a crop duster right outside the school. That was the first attempt to bomb maybe f our or five feet wide. It was big enough, because it was dropped and there was an explosion and all, and people were shaken up. We were quite shaken. During a mass meeting, this happened during a mass meeting, yeah. And it was dropped from a crop duster, a small plane that used to dust the cotton crops. For a brief stretch of time, my wife, who was Minneapolis to talk about our experience and to raise money for the project. We did that for a wh ile, came back, and I think we did spend we


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 8 a very large demonstration in January, I think we had at least probably more than, maybe about a hundred and fifty people. Actually, hundred and twenty five, a hundred and fifty at one point or another, came, marched around the courthouse. Charles McLaurin was shouting words of encouragement through a bullhorn to us, and it came off without incident. I think there were lots of incidents around in other parts of the state, and on that day, with those demonstrations. During the last six oh, not really, more like five or six months that my wife and I remained here, I beca One of the . SNCC prepared profiles, I believe, of each county or area where people went to work. We had a Sunflower County mimeographed brochure, pamphlet of, maybe, eight and a h alf by eleven, ten, twelve pages, double spaced which consisted, primarily, of research that had what can I say? Exceptional research director at the time, who, Jack Minnis who dug up a great deal of information about who really owned the large plantations here in Sunflower County and, also, what little industry existed. And, not unlike other parts of the South, it exposed the kind of colonial relationship between the Southern economy and the larger national economy and even internation al, if you will. While Senator James Eastland was a large, one of the largest landowners, in the county, the largest landowner was an English company. They owned, I


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 9 think I think I do remember the figure, thirty eight thousand acres which were, I think, mo stly in cotton. Perhaps there was something else as well. And, in addition, the pamphlet described the largest employer not, probably the largest non agricultural employer, okay? In the county was a textile firm which was part of Ludlow Industries out of L udlow, Massachusetts, which you could trace, I suppose, to the Ludlow Massacre and then to James Russell Lowell, and so on and so forth. [Laughter] you probably remember better than I w as. He was an abolitionist, though not a radical abolitionist. He certainly was an anti slavery man, yeah. Ludlow employed about four hundred people, of whom perhaps about a quarter were black men. And they worked in the most environmentally under the wors t conditions, where they probably were at more risk than anybody else to, what is it called? The opposite grey lung, or? The disease? O: Oh K: O: Lint . K: as brown lung. And most of the rest of the employees were super exploited; perhaps, they were the super super exploited workers, and a large portion of the rest were white women. And they had a contract with the federal gov


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 10 were producing some kind of bags that were used by the United States mistaken. And we knew there was an Executive Order tha t this was before the establishment of the EEOC and before the passage of the Voting Rights is [19]65, Equal Employment is [19]64, right? O: [19]64. K: Okay. And maybe there was s omething before with fewer teeth in it. But, in any event, because of that act [it] For whatever reason, it seemed wisest if we were going to try to address that situation and with an organizing perspective; that is t o say, there were not that many black men in the community who were ready or prepared to take the risk of involvement in the freedom movement for very, very clear cut economic reasons, those who were employed in particular. In fact, the men who came to mee tings in Indianola, in addition to Mr. Giles, as I remember, they were, for the most part, people who were sharecropping just a little outside the boundaries of the town. And we thought, well, perhaps one way of involving people politically would be to see what could be done, pull together a group of men who worked in Ludlow to see if something could be done about their situation there, and also to bring them in to see that there was reason for their involvement. The movement was more than just about the ri ght to vote, too. And we were successful in getting some action there, which followed occurred


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 11 letters to Washington and we got a hearing and went to Greenwood. I went to Greenwood with a number of people who worked out for there were, maybe, really, there were only, it was a small, quick group, really. There were about six or seven men who became involved in this, and the core group, the group that was always there, numbered only a bout four. And I must mention a local person who was the reason this all happened. he came to some of the activities in the year 2000, and that was a fellow who had worked there named Robert Cableton, who [is] st ill a resident of Indianola. I do believe that, when you were here in 2000, you may have interviewed not Robert Cableton, who had worked in Ludlow but was no longer working there when he first started coming to meetings and talking to us, in particular to me, about the people at Ludlow and what was going on there and the other person, whom I think you may have interviewed, was a man named Elmo Proctor. O: Yeah. K: to see him when I hoping he would be, you know, at this some of the events this week. So I consider that my major contribution, really was, in addition to illustrating fliers for mass meetings, which I used to do with cop ying old illustrations which I know were used, I guess, during Reconstruction to mobilize the


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 12 vote of the freedmen. It was come to the polls, ye sons of freedom, or something like that. O: Had you done this before, or did you K: No, no. This was had I do ne anything like that before? O: Yeah, I mean, did you know about that Reconstruction era tactic before you did this, or did you find out after? K: No, no, no. I had studied Reconstruction in American History and I had been a . a teaching assistant in a social science sequence in which we, Caste and Class in the Southern Town and a couple of other books like that, yeah. So, I was familiar with that period, and I had, in fact, many years before that in New York, I had taken a class with W.E.B. Du Bois, an eight week class, yeah, some few years before he left the United States. I had forgotten about that. O: Wow. What class did you take with Du Bois? K: It was just a I think it was, he was talking mostly about Rec onstruction, but it was on African American history. So I remembered that. So I would do some illustrations with, come to the polls, or something like that, ye sons of [Break in recording] K: So it was a very exciting time in which I certainly grew a grea t deal, and getting some sense of how what can I say? How difficult, not just social and political change is, but the enormous risks that some people are


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 13 willing to take to make it happen. I mean, I think of Elmo in particular and then whose job was on the line all during that period. In fact, I got forget, some other issue involving what was going on or something lik e that? [Laughter] Because, you know, these people were at risk, their jobs. But that particular experience, I was told later, had contributed a little to the organization by which union the Louis Grocer [Company], which is a big [trucking] even though these guys were driving over the road. It must have been the Teamsters, but there is a local union hall here, which is not Teamster s, where we had our first reunion in 1999. And Otis told me at that time that there people among the six or so guys who were at Ludlow at the time, were people who had brought in a union organizer when they went to work as drivers for Louis Grocer. And the women. The women in our with Mrs. Magruder, there was another place which was off of it had a name li suggested it was a dirt poor street. Byas Street, was Oklahoma Street leading off of Byas Street. Every single woma n who lived on that street


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 14 seemed to, was a real committed movement person who went to register to vote and talked movement to other people. And they made a big difference for, particularly, my wife, and then for me as well. They were kind of, what can I s ay? They enveloped us with love. And, while there was all this danger on the outside, we knew there was a lot of comfort [Rainey] knows her. Unidentified male : Oh, I think she mentioned I was talking about her tonight, John mentioned her. K: wnlow, quite close to her, and then a woman who spoke briefly in the chapel of the church this morning who had a walker and spoke about the Freedom School, some memories, what it meant for her and her family. Mrs. Wilson was someone whom my wife was quite close to and worked with. I was surprised, this morning, that Alice Giles, who was really a stalwart in the movement, too as much as her husband, in her way, though he was kind of a spo kesperson she was always there. And she was a real fighter, in her quiet way. I should mention, also, there was kind of an interesting historical connection that I was responsible for. One of the I knew from years ago, when I was in high school, I had met one of the people who


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 15 had been involved early on in the organization of the Southern Tenant he was a coworker of H. There were several people there. Some came out of, like H. L. Mitchell, came out of the Socialist par ty, and this preacher, Claude Williams, came out of the C.P. But he had been kicked out, okay? [Laughter] He had spent a short period in there, but he still had pretty party politics, I think. And I had met him through some friends in New York and New Have n when I was only in high school. He had come north to collect money to do what he had done; he was living outside of Birmingham, a big steel town and a working class suburb where there were both I was rather surprised, both black, some, a minority of blac k steel workers who managed to, I guess, find a little enclave there apart from the larger number of whites. He was trying to do what he had done many, many years before at Commonwealth College in Arkansas. Claude had this Institute of Applied Religion, Pe bell? Anyway, it was a suburb right, and there was, perhaps not. It was a town outside of Birmingham [Bessemer]. O: Start with an H? Hueytown? K: Whatever, but it was a town where there were most ly people, working class whites and a small number of working class blacks. He had done a few unusual things there, I gather, in the [19]50s and early [19]60s. Like, I guess he had raised money in the North to build a swimming pool right on the edge of the black and white community, and I think, occasionally,


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 16 Union and then he had had some kind of connection with the UAW in Detroit, because he moved north in the late [19]30s and worked in Detroit as sort of a . what are you calling disenfr they call them labor priests. He was like a labor pastor or something or other, and had been out in the streets during the Det roit riots in [19]43. He had a small congregation there, which I think was probably mostly black. Anyway, I knew Claude, and I knew he really could relate the movement to the Bible and do it in an absolutely compelling way. So I invited him to come, and he came and spent about a week or so in Indianola, and we had some little meetings with the people at Ludlow. He really clicked with them. Here was a Southern white who had grown up as the son of a . sharecropping father in a sharecropping family, and ha d gotten th.e calling, you know, when he was in was self educated and all, and here was someone from a poor white background, religi ous orientation, who really talked the language of the Unita Blackwell in Ma yersville times, I know. That was the beginning of the movement o ver there. Claude and she grew quite close for a stretch. Ah, I forgot something very important, sort of events or activities. The second large anti Vietnam War


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 17 demonstration in Washington occurred in April of 1965, and I was a, I member of SDS at P ort here, I was at the P ort Huron [Conference] While I was active in [19]62, mostly not with organizing the chapter at the University of Minnesota but involved in some of the discussions that were going on nationally, and so I had conne ctions there. I got a call from the person who was the national secretary who said, can you get people to come from Mississippi to that? It was primarily it was an SDS organized demonstration; it was, as I say, the second large one. There had been one the previous November, in November of [19]64, I believe, which attracted some I think it was about 25,000 people, and they were hoping to increase the number by April of had quite a number of buses going from Mississippi, including a large group from here. And it was right around the time that Muhammad Ali had refused military service and had said no Viet Cong or Vietnamese had ever called him a nigger, and there was a big banner the main bann er, where we encouraged people to, and people came up with themselves, generally because people were getting called up here at that time, certainly. My struggle was here in Mississippi, not in Vietnam. That was it. O: So, you were here from August in [19]6 4 to June in 1965. K: Yes, yes. I think it was a little later, actually. Let me try to I maybe was here into a little of July. Yeah, beginning of July.


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 18 O: Okay. So, now, you had had I mean, obviously, you had really significant pre movement political activ ities that you had been involved in. K: Yeah. O: But thinking back to when you left Mississippi or were in the process of leaving, how had the experience impacted you, or how did it change your views on life? Or did it change your views on life, for the te n or eleven month experience. K: Well, I think I prior to that time, I had been involved in what existed of an organized left in this country and had been through a couple of sects Actually, only one sect, okay? Considered myself to be something of a hom eless radical, with something of a modest education in Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and some others, though I think also, as a big an influence on me and my thinking then was: not early on, when I got interested in that literature, I had come across Dwight Macdon Politics in the Antioch Library. And [Break in recording] K: But most of all, I think what changed the way I saw the world was, I got a real sense of how . how much power people could have in certain . perspective and that and yet, at the same time, I had certainly developed a sense of the costs of making a commitment to changing circumstances. We always said, well, we could leave; we could get


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 19 up and go, and leave, and the folks who were really the movement extent, the same kind of daily humiliation that they had known all their lives. And with, you know, behind that line; behind that oppression, there was enforcement of violence and, possibly, even possible death. And I do remember, in particular, watching. You know, we watched Lyndon must have been Voting Rights Act speech with a number of local people. We watched that speech on Indianola. Certainly, not as much as I was accustomed to having around. And peop le expressing a great deal of skepticism. O: Local people K: The local people, yeah. While, of course, the sainted Kennedy, his over. You saw pictures of Kennedy that had been cut out I guess the idea of accepting a Texan who still had a drawl as someone who would keep a commitment was still very, very difficult. O: Plus maybe the experience with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, had it with them. K: Yeah, yeah. Certainly. So, I think what I learned was or, what it gave me was one, a sense of . the tremendous difficulty of organizing. And, also, that this was people, they were taking revolutionary steps. They were doing things that, for them, were really revolutionary and l ife risking. But


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 20 the to result in something far less totally transformational than I think a lot of my peers, among those who had come especially the whites expected. That they had expec tations that, with the response that the movement forced upon the federal government, there would be huge and striking social change; the beginning, as well, I guess, of some kind of social economic transformation and not just a political one. O: nteresting. So, coming back now for the reunion, this is the second time you were here for the reunion in 1999? K: I was here in [19]99 and I was here in 2000. I think Otis and I were the only two people who came from out of state in 1999. It was very mode st. I think Zellie dressed we had about twenty five, thirty people in the hall, the union hall. O: What made you come back? K: I had often thought of coming back, number one, to visit. And I had, at one point after I finally got myself an advanced degree i n social work, I had thought of possibly through a connection I had in the school I went to, Columbia with a program that involved a number of historical black colleges in the South, but not there was no school in Missis sippi. They had schools in Alabama. And they were helping these schools develop, improve their undergraduate social work degree programs; I guess they offered BSWs. So I thought at one point, and talked to someone about doing something like that. I had


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 21 tho ught of that while I was still working for the city of New York and the Human Resources Administration. Zell ie had who, yes, I got a call from Charlie Scattergood inviting me to his and Zellie tragically, never happened. That reminds me, too, of maybe coming back here sometime to see what Indianola was like forty years later. O: Have you had a chance to really reconnect with people now after three reunions and get a sense for K: Yeah. Not as much as I would like to. I mean, reconnecting with other people who had come from outside and come here, yeah. And, I think in 2000, we talked a lot among about the you may have heard from Bright Winn, or whom we know as Fred, talk about the factions. [Laughter] There know, that developed in the post summer, Freedom Summer, period. Then there was some, we talked a cliquishness of a few people who kind of spent their time doing what, I was never quite sure. And then suddenly, there were these jobs available Development Group of Mississippi, which began in the summer of [19]65, suddenly they had control of the sum of money and jobs f or local people and they made those decisions. But, apart from that, which really is not him, Cableton and Elmo, the last time I was here. I also had a chance to I remember Zellie er well from those years. Talked with her,


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 22 varied career, really; worked in a number of different things. A fter I left here, I went to teach at Talladega [College] in Alabama and stayed close to a number of SNCC people. Some of the students I taught there became involved in SNCC, and some few years later I worked for the dvancement Fund, which had some projects in Georgia and I travelled down to Atlanta, though I was mostly in New York and Washington. There were a lot of old comrades from that time who were involved in those projects, yeah. O: te. I have one more question I was going to ask you, Herschel, about there was a really striking phrase that you mentioned earlier about what you learned in terms of when you arrived here, the organizing experience that you had prior, and then what you got from working with people here. The phrase you used was, they enveloped us in love. K: Mm hm. O: K: organizer. O: rd this very common hear people who were involved in the movement during


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 23 those years use a term like this, in terms of the relationships between people in SNCC, the relationships with local K: Yeah, beloved community. O: excuse me for editorializing a little bit, but in my work as a person who does histories or tries to learn about histories of social movements, one of the things I hear about peop le today adults, people, you know, between forty and on up that I think, today, even, at one of the sessions K: Lack of passion. O: Lack of passion. Some of the Teach for America folks were usin g that language as if they were kind of older folks, right? Like old timers, right? And I thought it was interesting, because they were suggesting the same thing, but I kind of I kind of wonder about that. K: I was disturbed by their use of that phrase. [L young people there, and what they were saying about that generation is not something that is going to I suspect open up those young people. critical t hinking and . O: But I wonder trying to formulate a question here that tries to bring this idea to bear on that sch ool, you participating in the union, myself trying to learn the history


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 24 of it, building a new social movement and trying to figure out how to get this concept, enveloped us in love, into organizing today. Because it does seem to me, that in my training as an activist in the [19]80s, that I never really came across this. I mean, I kind of learned, okay, door to door work, you know, canvassing, phone lists, things, kind of the nuts and bolts of organizing. But no one ever took me aside and said, look, this is really you know, it seems to that there is a missing element of organizing today, but if there K: Certainly, yeah. O: But there is something missing here, or today, that able to build in the early, mid okay, well, how do we I mean, what would be a step today to either recover that or to cr eate it anew? And kind of make that a part of our K: Mm hm. O: [Laughter] Any ideas? K: young people, younger people in their twenti es, who [Break in recording] [End of interview]


M FP 0 25 ; Kaminsky ; Page 25 Transcribed by: Diana Dombrowski, August 12, 2013 Audit edited by: Sarah Blanc, September 2, 2013 Final edited by: Diana Dombrowski November 22, 2013 and May 2014