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Sunday, February 25, 1968
THE DAILY TAR HEEL
By WAYNE HURDER
of The Dally Tar Heel Staff
SELMA - It has been three years
now since the first stage of the Civil
Rights movement reached its peak
What happened during those three
months of January, February and March
of 1965 has since become a part of the
South's politidal folklore.
The Rev. Martin Luther King was the
man of the hour. An end to discrimina
tion in general and discrimination con
cerning voting rights in particular - was
There were the marches, like the
famous one to Montgomery March 22,
marches in which thousands of persons
E I B nn
Downtown Selma: It's Saturday Afternoon And People Come In To Shop
. . . Selma Bail Bond Co. was the busiest place in town during the 1965 demonstrations
.Federal Aid Ign9!;
By WAYNE HURDER
of The Daily Tar Heel Staff
SELMA What can the federal
government do to stop race riots in
Northern Negro ghettoes?
Stop the flight of southern Negroes to
the North, answers a report of the
Southern Rural Research Project
(SRRP), based in Selma.
By using different tactics along the
War on Poverty's southern battlefront,
the report said.
The SRRP, headed by a white lawyer,
Don Jelinek, was formed last yer to study
some of the problems faced by Negroes
in the South and to attempt to alleviate
The organization, which is supported
by two private foundations, came to this
conclusion after interviewing 1,800 Negro
farmers in Alabama and Mississippi.
The report charged that "poverty in
the Negro South is directly related to ac
f. . tive discrimination by Southern federal
1 employees of the U.S. Department of
Because of the state of things, ac
cording to the report, Negro youths have
to choose between fleeing to the Northern
ghettos or staying on the farm and
- repeating the cycle of poverty.
The report found fault with federal
programs in five areas:
MOST NEGRO farmers aren't aware
of federal farm programs for which they
NEGRO FARMERS who do apply for
the programs are usually turned down by
the USDA's local representatives.
MOST NEGROES who go to federal
', offices "are treated in a degrading and
NEGRO FARMERS are given smaller
acreage allotments and smaller projected
yields (a figure which determines the
amount of a government subsidy
FOOD STAMP programs and surplus
took to the dusty roads of Alabama to get
their message across.
And thrre was violence. Three civil
rights workers were killed in one in
cident. In another, on March 7, police us
ed clubs and tear gas to turn back an at
tempted Montgomery march. Seventeen
Negroes were hospitalized, hundreds
were less seriously injured, and the day
became known as "Bloody Sunday."
Billy Clubs and cattle prods became
the trademark of Alabama law en
forcement officers, the stereotype of
which was Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas
Ten thousand people staged a sym
pathy march in Detroit and an integrated
commodity programs don't work,
because poor usually don't have the
money to buy stamps and the surplus
food usually isn't sufficient.
However, rectifying thjs situation
would mostly be of only short range. In
the long range, what is needed is "some
concept of land reform," according to
He doesn't consider industrialization
as the answer to the problems of the
South. He said he would like to have peo
ple stay on their land and farm it rather
than leave it for the city.
Rather than plant the traditional cot
ton, farmers ought to plant food crops
such as vegetables, which would require
only six or seven acres of land, Jelenek
One of the main arguments that might
be offered against keeping people on the
farm is that there are already huge
surpluses of food that are costing the
government millions, according t o
But, he says, "That is a fiction. There
is no surplus.
"What they mean is that farmers
aren't making enough money. The issue
is that we don't want to hurt the market
by pumping more food into it."
"If we were providing free food across
the world and country, this wouldn't
clash with the market," Jelinek ex
plains." SRRP has devised its own food pro
gram which it thinks would not harm the
consumer food market, but would insure
poor people a nutritious diet.
First, for the benefit of farmers, the
government would allow them to plant
their diverted land which the govern
ment now pays them not to plant.
This land would be planted with food
crops with tie understanding that this ex
tra crop would not be released onto the
The government would then buy these
crops at a price higher than the "subsidy
for not planting but lower than the price
of the non-diverted crop.
Second, for the benefit of the
'The People Are Poorer, Hungrier, Sicker
. . . The Civil Rights Movement Didn't Deliver'
A few years ago, Selma, Ala., was the capital of the
Civil Rights Movement. What kind of changes did the
marches, the sit-ins bring about? What's it like in
Selma today? Daily Tar Heel Managing Editor
Wayne Hurder, who worked for a summer as a
reporter for The Southern Courier in Alabama,
recently revisited Selma to find out. Here is this
crowd of 500 turned
out for one in
by JIM PEPPLER, The Southern Courier
merchant and poor, the poor would buy
"food coupons" at the price of the usual
grocery bill from the merchant.
With this "food coupon" the poor
person could get his food at the normal
retail price from the merchant, but -he
would also be entiled to a donation of ex
tra food from the government, to sup
plement that which he bought.
Lastly, the government would benefit
because it could get off the "expensive
and inadequate food Stamp program,"
according to the RRP.
The additional expense for the extra
edian Income: $1 , 000
Average Meal: Corn b read
"A young child growing up in the '
Black Belt can scarcely hope to develop
as normal American children are assum
ed to develop.
. "In fact, his situation is closer to a
child growing up in a poor un
derdeveloped nation than it is to an ,..
average American child." !
That's the conclusion a graduate stu
dent of nursing here at UNC reached
after spending several years in Mississip
pi and Alabama studying health problems
Miss Phyllis Chinningham, who is
working towards her bachelor of science
degree in the Public Health School here,
found many things in her studies that she
considers to have grave implications for
the economic or educational potential of a
Lack of accessibility to doctors, lack
of money for medical care, inadequate :
shelter, inadequate clothing, nutritional, -deficiencies,
and inadequate services for
children were the main problems she en
countered in working in Hinds County,
Miss., and Lowndes County, Ala. "
Nutritional deficiencies represent a
Following the marches a bill to insure
minority grops their voting rights was in
troduced into Congress, building up
the hopes of Negroes in Selma ; and
throughout the South hopes that a
change really was going to come.
The bill was passed in August following
a stiff fight in the Senate. The President
signed it into being the Voting Rights
Act of 1965.
BUT HAS THE hoped-for change com-
No, it hasn't according to Selma
Negroes and some people who work
closely with them.
"There'a been no real change," said
white lawyer Don Jelinek, director of the
Southern Rural Research Project in
"Sure, there's been some change in
things that ae unimportant, like people
are allowed to go in white restaurants
when they don't have any money.'
"They don't get their heads beat in as
much by the police.
"They can vote, but . when Negroes
campaign, they are arrested and they are
evicted from the land they farm," he
"The people are poorer, hungrier,
sicker, and a bit more discouraged
because the Civil Rights Movement
hasn't delivered as they, thought it
Clarence Williams, chairman of the
Independent Dallas County Free Voters,
an organization formed by Negroes,
agrees with Jelinek.
food crops, storage, and distribution
would be offset by the savings involved in
not paying the "bonus" on each Food
Stamp purchase, according to the SRRP
For example, in Alabama a family of
seven with a monthly net income of $35
(not unusual in Alabama) pays $10 for
Food Stamps and receives coupons
valued at $78. The government pays the
bonus of $68.
A land reform program is feasible, ac
cording to Jelinek, and "it is in
majcr problem, according to a report co
authored by Miss Cunningham, because
"poor nutrition. . . may give" a child
"little energy to concentrate for optimum
results from his schooling."
Eighty per cent of a sample of persons
examined in Lowndes county she said,
were found to be anemic for various
"The effects of this problem alone on
the economic life of black people cannot '
be overestimated," according to the
"Many children are asleep in school by
mid-morning and fatigue is a common
"Adults are more often thought to be
lazy or shiftless than ill by white
employers," it explains.
A common meal in Lowndes County .
where the median yearly income for a
farm family is less than $1,000 might
be corn bread or grits, according to Miss
One thing the people do to keeping
from feeling hungry is eat Argo starch,
which swells in the stomach after it is
eaten, she said.
"From the time the Negroes got the
right to vote there hasn't been a visible
sign of change," Williams said.
Negroes were successful, however, in
getting Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark
defeated in his try for re-election and this
was "a big boost to morale," he said.
But no Negroes have been elected yet
to any office in the county, which is 57.7
per cent Negro.
"This was because of a failure of com
munication 'among Negroes," Williams
This failure of communication, more
explicitly, according tc Williams, was a
failure on the part of the established,
middle-class Negro political organization,
the Dallas County Voters League, to
reach the poor Negroes, who form the
bulk of the black population.
WHAT IS THE number one problem
for Negroes in Selma and how do they
plan to solve the problem?
The biggest problem is jobs. Jelinek
and Williams, agree wholeheartedly on
that. So does Alonzo West, a n
unemployed painter in his mid-forties.
The West family lives in the George
Washington Carver Homes, the center cf
the civil rights activity in 1965. His home
was one of the little centers where people
came to talk.
Before Selma became a center of civil
rights activity he was managing okay as
a house painter, doing a lot of work for
fairly-well-off white Selmans.
As he . gradually became more in
volved in the Civil Rights work the
amount of painting he was asked to do
gradually tapered off, finally reaching
Since 1965 he has worked off and on as
a painter at a nearby Air Force base.
Now he's in one of those off periods,
pinching pennies until the air base
decides to hire on more painters tem
porarily. "Before the Movement I was self
employed, doing well; 98 per cent of my
work was for whites. When I started get
ting tied up in the Movement I started
losing my jobs," he explains.
"Handouts? I don't want this.
"I didn't know what a handout was un
til 1965," he said. "If it hadn't been for
the people that came down here (for the
March to Montgomery) my family would
have starved t odeath."
"THAT'S WHAT the local people were
doing trying to starve me out."
Things are particularly bad; now, .
v Williams says, because last year was a
baH one for farmers'. ' ' " ' '"
This can be especially disastrous for a
place like Selma, which is in the center of
the richest farm land in the South, the
Latest available figures for unemploy
ment for Alabama are for 1966 and they
show an unemployment rate of 7.3 per
cent for Negroes almost double that of
Howeve, these figures are inaccurate,
according to Williams, and the real rate
should be about five to six per cent
higher because some Negroes get "los"
in the census taking.
The unemployment problem i s
; heightened by the shifting patterns in
Mor and more of the large farms in
the Black Belt are being mechanized or
are shifting away from cotton production
to cattle raising.
Because of the switchover, mans of
the persons who have tenant farmed the
land are having to leave and go to the ci
ty. This particularly hurts the Negroes,
who make up the bulk of tenant
"The people are being dumped, given
a chance of starving in the rural areas or
going to the ghettos," Jelinek explains.
"Four or five years ago there were
many Negroes living on white people's
plantations as sharcroppers," West says,
"but today the whites have swapped the
Negroe for the Hereford.
THERE USED TO be a time when
Negroes could get out and pick cotton so
they could buy their children school
clothes," he said.
"There used to be a time when a man
and a woman could support a family by
chopping cotton or digging a ditch.
"But today they got cotton pickers,
they got corn pickers, they got ditch dig
gers, and they've got .poison to put
around cotton so you don't have to chop
Attempts are being made to alleviate
conditions in the two problem areas
that of the urban poor, and that of the
In the first area, most of the attempts
are being made as part of the War on
Poverty. The action being undertaken to
help the farmers is their own doing,
The War on Poverty isn't making a
real big hit in Selma, anyway.
West explains bitterly that "instead of
calling it a War on Poverty they should
call it a war on poor people."
"The program itself is wonderful; it's
needed, very much needed," he says.
However, he says, "very few of the
poor people in Dallas County .know about
the poverty programs."
The problem, as West sees it, is that
middle class persons represent the
Negroes in the programs and they re
unable to reach the poorer Negroes and
get them to participate.
Also, West says, the programs are
geared along the lines of what a middle
class person might think would be best.
RIGHT NOW IN Selma we have a
beautification program, designed . to
beautify the city by having trees planted
and street lights put up on the main
thoroughfare," he explained.
"But planting trees and putting up
street lights isn't doing anything for the
"We still have hungry people in Selma,
people who are out of work, that want
jobs but are unable to get them, because
there are no jobs," West said.
"Most people say, We aren't in
terested in those flowerpots, we're in
terested in learning a trade, in improving
things for the community. "
"The civil rights movement is what
brought about the poverty program.
We're the ones that suffered. And what
do we get? Flowerports."
"I think its more important," West
said, "for a person who is hungry to have
a meal than to live in a beautiful city."
"The way the poverty program money
is being spent and the people that are in
charge that's what is wrong."
IN THE RURAL areas about Selma
Negroes are trying to improve their
economic status two ways, one by at- ,
tempting to get Negroes elected to the
Agricultural Stabilization aad Control
Services Committee and, two, by diversi
fying their crops and organizing a co
operative to help them market their pro
ducts. For a cotton farmer the ASCS com
mittee can be the most important thing
in his life, for it decides how big an
acreage allotment he will get
Members of the committees are sup
posed to be elected by the farmers.
However, no Negro farmer has ever:
served on a committee in any county,
. despite the fact that Negro farmers out
number white farmers in the Black Belt
counties, which product most of the cot
ton. Hale County, near Selma, is one ex
ample. Negro farmers outnumber white
farmers two to one there, but have never
had a representative on the committee.
Apparently their non-represenation
has made a difference, according to a
study done in 1965. This study showed
that the white farmers got an average
cotton allotment of about 39 acres while
the average Negro farmer got just under
'Negro farmers in the last several
- years have agitated to insure themselves
the right to elect any committeemen!, for
two reasons? .
WHITE FARMERS have shown a
tendency to nominate a large number of
Negroes for the positions, thus splitting
the votes, while they nominate just a few
whites, to insure that they get enough
votes to win.
FARMERS ALSO HAVE been known
to intimidate Negro candidates wrho stood
a good chance of winning.
An example of this happened in
Marengo County with a Negro farmer
who had gone to Washington, D.C., to
testify at hearings on the difficulties
Negroes face in getting equal treatment
from the U.S. Department of
The day he returned home a car drove
by bis house and the passengers fired a
few shots in the air.
Someone spread the word that it
wouldn't be too healthy fur him to stick
around. The next day he left to visit
friends up North.
In the subsequent elections for com
mitteemen, no Negroes were elected.
THE ONE OPTIMISTIC thing for
black farmers has been the Southwest
Alabama Farmers Co-operative Associa
tion (SWAFCA), organized with federal
The members of SWAFCA have
switched from growing cotton to growing
vegetables, which SWAFCA then finds a
Although one of the more beneficial
things to come along for the Negrc
farmers, it too has it problems, the same
recurring problem that thj Negroes arc
facing, a split between the middle class
which is used to leading and the poorei
Negroes, who aren't benefitted by the
middle class leadership.
"SWAFCA could be a real force in the
community," according to Beth Wilcox, a
reporter for the Southern Courier, a
weekly paper which specializes in cover
ing problems in race relations in
Alabama and Mississippi
"It's supposed to be for the people, but
it didn't turn out the way it was dreamed
. jit would," she said. "It's alienating a lot
of people because of the treatment they
get in the office."
SWAFCA is dependent on rich Negroes
for the building and the land it is on, she
says, and this shouldn't be.
This problem of a split among
Negroes is the one thing that West,
Jelinek, Williams, and Miss Wilco talked
"The white collar group wants to
lead, and the people the no-collar
group want to lead themselves.
They're basically are split on leadership,
not on principles," Jelinek explains.
"We used to be together, back in
1965," says Mrs. West. "Now Negroes are
. That is the Negro's main problem,"
says Miss Wilcox. "They must get back
together they can do anything."