THE WOOLWORTH SIT-IN (WITH NEW MATERIAL, 2012)

 

 

sitin.jpg (667799 bytes)

Our Woolworth Sit-In, Jackson Mississippi, 5/28/63 was the most violently attacked sit-in of the '60s and the most publicized.   Involving a White mob of several hundred, it went on for several hours while hostile police from Jackson's huge all-White police department stood by approvingly outside and while hostile FBI agents inside (in sun-glasses) "observed."   Seated, left to right are Hunter Gray (John R. Salter, Jr.) -- Native American; Joan Trumpauer (now Mulholland), a White Southern student at our private Black college, Tougaloo College [one of two White students at Tougaloo]; Anne Moody, Black, from Wilkinson County, Mississippi.  I, Gray [Salter] was a very young Tougaloo professor; and Joan and Anne were my students.  All of us are covered with sugar, salt, mustard, and other slop.  I was beaten many times -- fists, brass knuckles, and a broken glass sugar container -- and am covered with blood. 

We have published -- on this page and the next -- three of the best photos of the sit-in.

This first photo is the most famous sit-in photo of the '60s -- frequently depicted over the decades in exhibits, television documentaries, books and magazines -- and has recently appeared in many "end of the Century" photo books [e.g., Life The Way We Were: Decades Of The Twentieth Century, Time Inc., 1999 -- where it is The civil rights photo in the book] and extensive narrative/photo discussions of the times [e.g., The American Century, by Harold Evans, Knopf, 1999], and many others.

 

The new enlarged and updated edition of my book, JACKSON MISSISSIPPI: AN AMERICAN CHRONICLE OF STRUGGLE AND SCHISM, is now fully available for purchase.  The publisher is Bison Books/University of
Nebraska Press.

 THIS BOOK IS THE ONLY FULLY DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE HISTORIC AND MASSIVE JACKSON MOVEMENT OF 1962-63. (FOLLOWING THAT IS MORE COMMENTARY ON THE WOOLWORTH SIT IN -- AND MORE PHOTOS ON THE FOLLOWING PAGE.)

 

The new enlarged and updated edition of my book, JACKSON MISSISSIPPI: AN AMERICAN CHRONICLE OF STRUGGLE AND SCHISM, is now fully available for purchase.  The publisher is Bison Books/University of
Nebraska Press.

 

The initial Introduction in the two earlier editions has been replaced by one written by me: "On The River Of No Return."  This is, in many ways,  a large, additional chapter [about 9500 words] which up-dates Mississippi, discusses our family's always interesting experiences since the first edition of JM appeared in 1979, and contains supplemental autobiographical material.  And, of course, it also contains something of my reflections as a life-long social justice organizer.
 
The dedication: 
 
For Eldri and the Family -- truly a Golden Horde
 
And in memory of Doris and Ben Allison and Medgar Wiley Evers
 
 
Thus this will likely be my basic autobiographical memoir.  As a corollary to that, however, I must say that my health is fine.
 
The University of Nebraska Press is one of the largest university presses in the country.
 
Here is their announcement of Jackson, Mississippi:  (Click on the photo and it'll get bigger.)
http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/Jackson-Mississippi,674910.aspx
 
In Solidarity,
 
Hunter Bear (Hunter Gray / John R. Salter, Jr.)

 

James Loewen  (author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and other works), November 9 2012:
 
Jackson, Mississippi presents a vivid insider's view of the Jackson boycott movement, the demonstrations that led to mass arrests, the actions of courageous young people, and the murder of Medgar Evers and the incredible tension of his funeral march.  As you would expect, given that Salter was and is a sociologist and a radical, it also contains penetrating analyses of the role of each acting group, including the national office of the NAACP, black ministers, the city government and police force, White Citizens Council, etc. And it shows the important role played by Tougaloo, some of its students and faculty members (including Prof. Salter), and its president, A. D. Beittel.

_________________

 

MARTIN LUTHER KING AND FOUR NATIVE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS -- INCLUDING MYSELF -- HONORED BY NATIONAL INDIAN GAMING ASSOCIATION  (INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, JANUARY 16, 2012)

 
Thanks very much indeed to Ernest Stevens, Jr. and NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association) for honoring Dr King and the four Native civil rights activists and leaders. I'm greatly pleased to be included in this group, some of whom I've met and with whom I've worked at various points.  Hunter Gray (John R Salter, Jr)
 
 
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/01/16/ernie-stevens-jr-honor-mlk-and-native-civil-rights-leaders-72722

And see: 

Pieces in our Jackson Mississippi Civil Rights Scrapbook:  Three consecutive web pages beginning with http://hunterbear.org/a_piece_of__the_scrapbook.htm

THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET:  JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI 1963 -- SENT TO A WIDE RANGE OF INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL COMPONENTS OF THE JACKSON AND MISSISSIPPI POWER STRUCTURE.

 

A historic document from the immediately above Scrapbook pak:  We broaden our five month highly successful boycott of downtown Jackson into a full-scale mass, non-violent Movement.

 

COMMENT BY HUNTER GRAY/JOHN R SALTER JR ON MAY 23 2005 [TO LOUIS PROYECT AND FRIENDS OF HUNTER BEAR]

Thanks very much, Louis, for posting this and for your kind accompanying
comment.  It's a well known photo, appearing regularly over the decades --
mostly in the 'States but often abroad.   Here in Pocatello [and much
elsewhere as well] a well known high school history book carries it
faithfully.

This and other photos of the "situation"  involve a mostly youthful group of
vigorous physical critics -- at least at that moment, thugs -- but also
adult Klan types and, wearing dark classes, what we have always been sure
were FBI agents.  In the milling throng was Lucy Komisar, spending several
months with our Movement and the Mississippi Free Press [which a number of
us had launched late in '61], and now a well known journalist out of NYC.
[She is clearly seen in the background of another photo, one of several on
our large website.]

The hostile throng, inside and out, came to number several hundred at least.

I have always found it difficult to blame the kids in the mob -- at least
beyond a certain point.  One of the things I consistently did was to study
Deep South history, sociology, culture.  I knew where they were coming from
and that awareness, which convicts the Big Mules and their opportunistic
racist political allies, also makes it tough to be too hard on those kids.
Beba [John] in more recent times has been with me when we have had
interesting discussions in Mississippi with former adversaries.  In long
time, even former Gov. Ross R Barnett used to convey his regards and
sympathy through a mutual friend to "Professor Salter" --" 'way up there in
that awful North Dakota".  [Southerners of whatever ethnicity have been
consistently horrified by the N.D. winters.]

And then, of course, there are those to whom Rhett Butler's comment to
Scarlett certainly applies, "The Old Guard dies but it never surrenders."

Soon after the Brown deseg decision in '54, the white Citizens Council
movement -- middle and upper echelon class-wise -- began in Mississippi and,
quickly pervasive, captured the state with its clarion call, "States'
Rights, Racial Integrity."  It spread across the South, not always
pervasively, but in consistently sinister and influential fashion.  In due
course, among its many poisonous branches and leaves, was its "curriculum"
for the white grade schools.  In early years, kids were taught that "blue
birds play with blue birds only" and "chickens do not mix."  Quack nonsense
then explained this latter by indicating that, if one took 100 chickens, 50
of them white and the other 50 black, they would naturally segregate
themselves.  In lessons designed for the later grades, kids were told that
"[White] Southerners built America," "[White] Southerners are the true
patriots",  "Race-Mixers are Communists," "Race-Mixers want to destroy the
South and America."

And the products of that hideous catechism graced that Woolworth Store [and
many other battle lines] for hours on that fateful day, May 28, 1963, at
Jackson.

As Ever, H

(Our very full page on my book, Jackson Mississippi, plus some more on the Woolworth Sit In, can be found at http://hunterbear.org/jackson.htm )

 

LOKI'S BLOG: THE VIOLENT JACKSON SIT-IN -- AND HIS LAST WEEK'S VISIT TO US GRAYS (HUNTER GRAY  JULY 30 2011)

These are two not-long blog posts from Loki Mulholland.  Loki, who lives in Utah, is the son of Joan Mulholland, well known for her role in the Freedom Rides and our Woolworth Sit-In at Jackson [and for many other good things.]  Loki is a quite accomplished film writer and director with several very good pieces of work to his credit.  He is presently working on a film, "An Ordinary Hero." based on his mother's most interesting career.  It's expected to emerge in 2013. 

A week ago, Loki and his good spouse, Shieleen, came here for a very pleasant visit.  It's not often that people from afar make it up here to us.  Admittedly, our life on this hill has become somewhat insular and, given some very hostile reactions to our existence here in Idaho, we are reasonably watchful and wary. [All of my several firearms are discreetly out of sight, however.]  We hadn't seen Loki for awhile but, although a few years can sometimes pass between direct visits,  good friends, upon meeting again, can always bridge that superficial chronology.  That certainly happened in this.  (H)

Sitting Down to Take a Stand

Sitting Down to Take a Stand

“Right there at my feet was Memphis Norman. They were kicking his head in.” The scene was still vivid for Bill Minor forty-eight years later as he retold part of the story.

The Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit-in… there were others before it but this one seemed to set the world on fire because of Fred Blackwell’s visceral photographs. You could almost hear the screams and taunts from the angry crowd as those at the counter seem to almost pay them no mind.

John, Joan and Anne… just sitting there and taking it.

John Salter (he would later change it to his ancestral name – Hunter Gray) is one of the coolest cats I know. He’s not a small guy. He’s tough as nails and could’ve taken any, if not all, of the mob. He had been through worse. Blood (from brass knuckles to the head) mixed with salt and ketchup run down his neck and shoulder.

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, her head turned possibly saying something to Anne, as someone is about to pour something else on her.

And Anne Moody looking tired and almost resigned to the fact that they just might not making it out of there alive.

This was just a snapshot, a moment in time and that’s how I, like many others, came to know of the sit-in. This photo was just one moment of three people trying to make life better. There were, I think, 13 people in all. When others were dragged out more came to take their place.

They volunteered for this. From what I understand, the mob was already there when Joan, John and others heard what was happening, came down, saw the mob and worked their way through so they could sit down and take their beatings. I always thought they came in, sat down and then the mob showed up (which did happen with the first wave of protestors) but no, this group had to work their way through the mob for the privilege of being attacked.

Joan was pulled by her hair and dragged out. She wrestled herself free and went back through the mob and sat back down at the counter. It went on for more than three hours.

This is what I know of my mom and the Civil Rights Movement. The other sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, death row at Parchman, the Klan threats, etc. are all relatively new to me. Maybe I heard the stories before and just didn’t remember them but the sit-in with its photographs… I remember.

Returning to Jackson, Mississippi for the Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary I was able to walk over to Capitol Street where Woolworth used to stand. It was torn down in the name of progress with some gleaming office built in its place. I was disappointed. I don’t know why I thought it would still be there or why I was hoping it would.

There’s no marker to tell you it was once there or what took place but it was there and it took place. Forty-eight years ago Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, along with others, knowingly risked their lives, voluntarily walked through an angry mob and sat down at a lunch counter to stand up for their fellow man.

Loki Mulholland – Writer/Director

(Read Anne Moody’s and John Salter’s books – “Coming of Age in Mississippi” and “Jackson, Mississippi”)

The Great Bear

The Great Bear

When John Salter, of Scottish and Native American ancestry, was 18 he shot his “coming-of-age” bear in the mountains of Arizona. It was a massive specimen that took six bullets to bring down. It wasn’t going to go down easy and definitely not without a fight. Only one of them was going to make it out of those mountains alive. I’m sure some of the Spirit of that animal passed to John because John truly is one of the great bears.

There are some people out there that no matter what they’re going to fight to the bitter end. They’re going to do whatever it takes to make certain they did all they could. You have to admire people like that. It takes a special kind of character to see things through and to never give in on what you know is right. Sometimes there’s a stubbornness to them that can be seen as almost irrational but when you truly understand that person you know it’s just who they are and you probably wouldn’t want them any other way. John Salter is one of those people.

My wife and I took the opportunity to see him and his wife, Eldri this weekend. Life got busy and too many years had passed but when I recently spoke with him on the phone I knew I had to pay him a visit. For several years John had Lupus. The operative word in that sentence is “had”. I guess, genetically, it will always be there but all his blood tests would say otherwise and his doctors couldn’t tell you why. And so we took off for Idaho to pay an old friend a visit.

I had hoped to interview John for the documentary because of his massive involvement in Jackson back in the 1960s but had written that off when I first realized I was going to do this in the Spring of last year but a few weeks ago I wrote a blog post mentioning John and felt impressed to call him. To my surprise he sounded like the old John, the one before Lupus, and I told him as much. He chuckled and said, “Well, didn’t your mother tell you?”

Back in the 90s, I had the privilege of spending a summer with John and Eldri when they were still in North Dakota. John was teaching at the University in Grand Forks and was very active in righting some injustices. He has a long history of that, dating back to his work fighting the mining companies. You spend enough time with someone and they’re bound to either grow on you or send you running in the other direction. We decided we liked each other.

And so, here I was with my wife in John and Eldri’s living room catching up on things when I asked John when he knew things were changing with his Lupus. He said it was around April of last year. I looked at my wife and she smiled back at me.

John and I hold the same belief that things happen for a reason even when we don’t always know why but there’s a Creator and He knows what He’s doing and that’s alright by us. You see, I had written off ever interviewing John for the documentary because of his Lupus (he had been at death’s door at least a couple of times with it) and lamented that fact because, aside from my mother, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, John was the one person I really wanted to interview. So, when I called him several weeks ago you can imagine my surprise when he sounded great and he related his present condition.

Alas, our visit was a short one. We only had a an hour or so since I had to be back in Utah for a shoot that evening but it was the best hour and a half I’ve had in some time. We talked about a lot of things. Some related to the Civil Rights Movement and some were just catching on each other’s lives.

Next to me on a table were two magazines John receives as a member of their organization. I laughed when I saw them because I thought they summed up John pretty well. One was for Lupus and the other was for the NRA.

Loki Mulholland – Writer/Director

AND FROM MY NEWSPAPER EDITOR SON, PETER [MACK]  11/29/06:

When I was working as a writing coach in St. Louis in September, my old boss saw the sit-in photo on my laptop. I'd downloaded it from a stock photo site. We talked for a few moments about the picture, and how I'd tried contacting the photographer for a bigger print but hadn't heard anything. Entire conversation took less than a minute.
 
Today, this came in the mail. My old boss worked with his successor -- the current vice president for news for Lee Enterprises -- to get this printed, matted, framed and sent to Lincoln. A very nice gesture indeed. I brought it home for the night to show Dawn and the boys, but I plan to hang it in my office.
 
(I keep a small framed version of it, torn from the New Yorker, on the wall of my cubicle in the middle of the newsroom, where I spend most of time. It's right next to Carl Gorman's wild horse sketch.)
 
Later [Peter Gray Salter, copy of sit-in photo enclosed]

____________________________________________________________________________________

HUNTER WRITES ON MARCH 19 2008  [EXCERPTED FROM A LARGER POST]:
 
Generalizations are inevitably challenging when it comes to Humanity -- and certainly to the behavioral positions of
the protagonists in a Cause as intense as the Southern Civil Rights Movement whose legacy and the issues it raised
obviously remain very vital and viable to this very moment, nationally.
 
In the wake of its greatest intensity and a number of highly significant victories, people -- being people -- began to
"rebuild"  in the quite emotionally drained South.  And they have been doing so in the context of some -- some --
new social arrangements.  And, although much distance -- regionally and nationally -- remains to be traveled and the
negative ethos of "the skeleton hand of history" remains at one remove, those changes have been truly revolutionary.
 
And those changes will continue -- again, both regionally and nationally.
 
I've always felt -- and have tried to act in accordance with that feeling -- that, while we learn much from the past, it's critical
that we look to the future and the Sun.  Years ago, I wrote and placed this on the frontal portion of our website:
 
"We cannot run away from the Winds of Challenge and Change. We have to take History and ride with it. Always ahead, always toward the Sun. And always aware that Democracy is natural and, given half a chance, it will always flourish. We have big fish to fry and we're going to have to do it in an American skillet -- over a long-burning fire from the timber of our own forests."  [H.]
 
That leaves, at least for me -- but also for many other veterans of intense struggles of many kinds -- no room for hate.  And no room for a backpack loaded with old grudges and old recriminations.  Fight hard for sure -- but never forget or ignore the essential Humanity of all of us.
 
So, again Bob, I much appreciate your comment.  That, along with the brief correspondence with the great niece of the late Chief Deputy Sheriff of Madison County, Mississippi, ["Out of a Strange Past, a Human Concern"], can be found in the lower portion of this page: 

http://hunterbear.org/forces_and_faces_along_the_trail.htm

In Solidarity, Hunter [Hunter Bear]

 

AND THIS RESPONSE FROM PETER GRAY SALTER [MACK]:

 
 
I can't disagree with you, Pop. And there's probably little good carrying around a backpack of new grudges, either.
 
But when I was younger, I used to study the sit-in photo in the New Yorker, and fantasize about seeking revenge against the punks in the crowd converging behind you. Heading down to Mississippi and looking them up, one by one, and letting them know who I was, who you were, and why I was there. There was one in particular whose expression and posture repulsed me. (Years later, I even thought it would make a good magazine story pitch.)
 
But when I passed through Jackson two years ago with my 18-year-old son, we made a visit to the Woolworth site. It's a grassy lot surrounded by high-rises and parking ramps, gone like a rotten tooth. People were walking by drinking Starbucks and talking on cell phones and not for a moment realizing the gravity of the place.
 
And I thought: Well, shit. And then I thought: Well, this is gone, and those faces in the photos have faded into old men, but you're still here. Maybe not in Mississippi, or in 'that awful North Dakota.'
 
Up on an Idaho hill, now. But you're still here.
 

(SCROLL DOWN TO THE "CONTINUE" LINK TO THE SECOND PAGE)

 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'
 
I have always lived and worked in the Borderlands.
Our Hunterbear website is now eleven years old..
Check out http://hunterbear.org/directory.htm
 
See - Personal and Detailed Background Narrative:
http://hunterbear.org/narrative.htm
 
See - The Stormy Adoption of an Indian Child (My Father):
http://hunterbear.org/James%20and%20Salter%20and%20Dad.htm
 
See - Elder Recognition Award
(Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Story Tellers:
http://hunterbear.org/elder_recognition_award_for_2005.htm
 

And see Shooting Lupus, now expanded 7 / 09 / 2011 (my killing
a very deadly disease in an eight year war -- a disease that did
its best to kill me):
http://hunterbear.org/shooting_lupus.htm
 

Continued With Additional Photos And Commentary On Next Page

 

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