MORE NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA BLACK-BELT CIVIL RIGHTS (HUNTER GRAY  2002 / UPDATE 2011) 

Dr. Willa Johnson Cofield  [Halifax County]  [And Notes On Attorney Floyd McKissick Of CORE]

PLUS A NEW -- 2011 -- PIECE OF MINE ON BERTIE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

AND CLEMENCY LETTER TO NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR  [HUNTER GRAY  1/05/02 ]   [AND SENTENCE COMMUTED!  HUNTER GRAY  1/10/02]

FOR MUCH MORE ON THE NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA BLACK BELT CAMPAIGN, SEE:

http://hunterbear.org/NORTH%20CAROLINA_OUR%20SUCCESSFUL%20BLACK%20BELT%20MOVEMENT.htm

North Carolina Black-Belt Campaign: Link to about two dozen sequential pages including photographs 

And for anti-poverty battles in the North Carolina Black-Belt: http://www.hunterbear.org/poverty_wars_and_the_seeds_of_la.htm

For a number of North Carolina situations -- including Durham/Lacrosse and Halifax memories -- see this:  http://www.hunterbear.org/NORTH%20CAROLINA%20THOUGHTS%20AND%20MEMORIES.htm

 

I still hear from people in the Northeastern North Carolina Black-Belt.  A good friend indeed, the late Attorney Floyd B. McKissick of Durham, N.C.,  at one time National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality and later CORE's Executive Director,  commented to me  years later, "You'll always be welcome, John, in every Black home in the [N.C.] Black-Belt. Any and everyone will always be glad to see you."

We've always kept in touch with Willa Johnson Cofield,   the very courageous teacher activist of Halifax County.  After her major   teacher rights victory in the high Federal courts, Willa eventually moved to New Jersey and got her PhD in Urban Planning at Rutgers.  In the fall of 1998, she visited us in Idaho -- well aware that we were having some very strange experiences at Pocatello with so-called "lawmen" and racist characters.  Several years earlier, February 26, 1995, she had written a very long letter to the Dakota Student, official student newspaper of the University of North Dakota.  I had retired as a full professor and former departmental chair only a few months before and Willa was aware that not everyone there -- and not everyone in Grand Forks where we continued to live for some years -- was a friend of mine by any means.  Here is a portion of her kind letter and related written comment:

". . .I'd like to share my own impression of John Salter, whom I first saw on a 1963 television newscast being mercilessly pummeled by a group of white men.  The attack took place during a Black student demonstration in Jackson, Mississippi.  A few months later, John appeared in my rural, eastern North Carolina community, where we Black people were staging our own demonstrations.

Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona and part-Indian, he was young, intense, smart and completely committed to social justice.

Salter's civil rights record, his obvious sincerity, as well as his willingness to take on the local racists, soon won over the most skeptical among us.  For over a year, he worked in our community, facing daily death threats, abuse, and the virulent hatred of local white people.

With John Salter's help, we initiated a countywide voter registration drive, and when local officials set up obstacles, John convinced a battery of topnotch lawyers to challenge the county board of elections in court.  Our side won.   For the first time since the disenfranchisement of Blacks in the late nineteenth century, thousands of eastern North Carolina Blacks registered.

In the 1980s, those voters helped send two Black men to the North Carolina Legislature.  Two years ago, they sent Eva Clayton, a Black woman, to Congress.

John Salter was not present for the victory celebration or for the happy bus trip to Raleigh for the inauguration of Thomas C. Hardaway as Representative from our District, but many of the bus passengers recalled Salter's courageous work during the 1960s. He had helped break the fierce Southern wall of resistance, thereby setting the stage for the Voting Rights Act and the election of Black people to local, state, and federal legislative bodies.

John drove with us the morning six of our children, including my own six-year-daughter, integrated the local white school.  He found lawyers and financial support, and we successfully battled the school officials and politicians who tried to kill our movement by firing Black teachers.

In communities throughout the South, John Salter is remembered for his selfless leadership and courage and as a man deeply and passionately opposed to injustice.

Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, I have met many of his former Tougaloo College students.  All remember him with the greatest respect and admiration.  It is sad to hear that in another place and time [University of North Dakota and Grand Forks] one of the most courageous leaders of the civil rights struggle is maligned rather than honored.

John has never flinched from taking  unpopular positions.  Those of us who benefited from his determination to act upon what he believed right consider that very quality a key factor in making him one of the truly great leaders of our time.

                                                               Sincerely,                                                          

Willa M. Cofield, Ph.D.

Enfield, North Carolina and Plainfield,  New Jersey

                                                                                                

And in a note on my copy of the letter, Willa Cofield wrote: "John -- You have successfully weathered worse storms.  Don't let the Bastards get you down.  Love - Willa "

We fought on. And we fight on.

 

Floyd McKissick: 

Attorney Floyd McKissick ["Mack"], a North Carolinian, Chair of the Congress of Racial Equality and later its Executive Director, was a strong and dependable friend always, "through thick and thin."  His daughter, Joycelyn, was a special friend of Eldri and myself.  I have many "McKissick stories" -- all very positive!  We met the first time early in 1964.  I had been jailed in a small North Carolina town -- the cell was cold and the food, of course, almost nil.  Called by local leaders, McKissick came fast to get me out, and he was successful. Outside, he asked if I was hungry?  "Damn hungry" was my reply.  "The only place around here we can eat," said he, "serves only soul food.  How do you feel about that?"  And I told him, "Take me there."  We ate heartily.  Then he told me something interesting:  "You had no sooner gotten here to North Carolina," he said, "then the damned FBI came to see me.  They warned me about you -- said you were a radical."  He added, "They also said there were white people all over the South who would kill you in a minute."  I grinned at him.  "That's no news," said I.  "And that's why I often have my .38 Special Smith & Wesson right handy."  Now McKissick grinned.  "Smart kid," he said.  "And any man the FBI doesn't like because he's too radical is a friend of mine."

 

And we were friends all the way through.  In 1969, Mack made a point of personally presenting me with a just-out copy of his excellent book, Three Fifths of a Man [New York:  Macmillan, 1969] -- with a foreword by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.  The book, very timely to this moment, is a clearly written  blunt and candid work which, attacking racism in intricate detail, examines the U.S. Constitution  and its relationship to American minority people -- with especial emphasis on the Constitution's great uses in the struggle for economic justice and full freedom.  And the book strongly supports the right to bear arms -- pointing out the great importance of firearms ownership to Southern Blacks with particular emphasis on protection against racists and hunting for food.  I've always appreciated the kind inscription  -- " To John Salter   A Friend and a Damn Good Fighter" -- that he wrote in my copy:

 

McK.jpg (286093 bytes)

 

BERTIE COUNTY,  NORTH CAROLINA [HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR]   SPRING 2011
 

Like a vast number of people in this country and, I'm sure, many globally, I've been watching with chilled fascination the effects of the Great Tornado Horror that's hit Kansas and Oklahoma down into Dixie and up the eastern seaboard into the Carolinas and Virginia.  Jackson, Mississippi, of course, we know well -- and I could recognize a locale or two -- and the same with some areas just to the north of there: fringes of the Tougaloo community and the newer suburbs reaching toward Canton.  The same with North Carolina, especially at Raleigh where we had once been based for several years, and -- very, very much Bertie County in the Northeastern Black-Belt into which, as with other counties in that region, we had carried our civil rights organizing campaign in the mid-1960s widely and successfully.

 
Bertie [it's pronounced Burr-Tee] has suffered horrible devastation.  The very small town of Colerain ["Coh-Rain"] has been virtually wiped out.  At least a dozen people have died in Bertie, with many  others injured.
 
I'm not a person who cries tears but I've come closer to it when I see the television shots of Bertie County.  Here are just a few of many vivid recollections of around 45 years ago.
 
Bertie is a large county, mostly rural and 70% Black -- with some small Native communities, mostly in the White Oak Swamp area.  It's still dominated economically by planters and very small town businesspeople and, in the mid-60s, it was one of the ten most economically poor counties in the United States.  There was virtually no industry back then and there's little now. It was old Tuscarora Indian country and a major base for that Iroquoian nation but, around 1715,  most of the Tuscarora removed to upstate New York and became the sixth nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.  But some remained in their traditional places in North Carolina and still remain. 
 
Back in the '60s, in my day, a state official in Raleigh had been publicly quoted as saying that, "Going to Bertie County is going into the 1700s."
 
When we began our North Carolina Black Belt campaign [I was Field Organizer for SCEF -- the Southern Conference Educational Fund], we started in Halifax County -- well to the west of Bertie.  It was trench warfare, pure and simple.  That intractably segregated and poverty-ridden county was tightly organized against any modicum of social change -- Klan, Birch Society, North Carolina Defenders of States Rights [the N.C. affiliate of the white Citizens Councils.]  With a whirlwind of grassroots meetings in Black and Indian communities, boycotts and demonstrations, we produced a massive voter registration drive which -- following violence at the polls and economic reprisals -- resulted in our winning a sweeping voter rights victory in Federal Court in Raleigh.  The result of that was the registration of thousands of Blacks, and many Indians as well, for the first time since Reconstruction. [This was a year before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in1965.]  Other Halifax victories followed --the county was essentially broken in a year, though we had mop-up-- and the news of all of this spread into other Black Belt counties which well fit well into our longer-term multi-county organization goal.
 
And I found myself speaking, as I had in the Halifax campaign, sometimes three times a night but now in churches in different counties.  While we sowed the seeds of activist organization in those, I concentrated the primary thrust of our efforts on a county by county basis.  Things moved fast and productively. 
 
In an effort to spread "the word" even further, we organized a very large scale Civil Rights and Anti-Poverty Conference to be held at the Indian Woods Baptist Church, in early March, 1965, out in a rural setting, in Bertie -- into which we had not yet entered officially.  The conference was extremely well publicized over much of northeast/east  North Carolina -- and I'd lined up a fine array of speakers and workshop leaders. One of those, for the always important freedom music dimension, was my old Arizona friend, Clyde Appleton, then in North Carolina as a music prof -- and currently on our Sycamore and Bear Without Borders discussion lists.  Ms. Ella Baker, a fine friend always and a SCEF staff colleague, was the keynoter.
 
When we arrived at the Indian Woods church about forty-five minutes before the affair was to begin, only the church's committed clergyman's car was in the parking lot.  A large pig was wallowing happily in a nearby mud puddle.  But, as per "Southern Time," a vast number of people, some in rented buses, arrived en masse just a little late.  The conference drew 1,043 people from  14 counties and went from about 10:30 am deep into the night. It was hailed in the region and the state itself as a major success. 
 
At the conclusion of the conference, a key local Bertie leader approached me.  Rev. W.M. Steele was a man of direct statement.  "We want you", he said emphatically, "here in Bertie.  And as fast as you can come." [He had, I learned later, once been a rural school teacher but had been fired for teaching the students the intricacies of math -- and showing them how their sharecropper families were being cheated by the plantation owners at settling-up time.]
 
I was certainly game.  The next day, I met with a Steele and a number of others.  This was the essentially secular dimension.  There was another, mandatory meeting required -- a very important meeting with the religious Elder of the county, a man around 90 years of age. He headed the county-wide Ministerial Alliance.  "We have to meet with him," said Steele, "and he definitely wants to meet you."
 
I had no problem with that. In my black suit and with Steele by my side, I met a few a few days later with the Patriarch.  He sat in a chair, the more senior Bertie clergy adjacent to him, younger clergy a bit further back.  The arrangement and the ethos struck me as tribal.  Steele introduced me -- many of the clergy had been at the Conference -- and I sat in a chair directly in front of the awsome elder who I now saw as the Primary Chieftain.  He looked me over carefully and then, in a not unfriendly fashion, asked me a number of pertinent personal questions, followed by several very apt ones on my organizing approach.  I responded fully.  Then, suddenly, with a huge and warm smile to me, he stood.  We all stood and he extended his hand which I shook.  There was a prayer.
 
Things moved with powerful whirlwind speed in Bertie.  I spoke all over the county and, as formal organization took shape, we effectdively addressed a variety of issues.  The Bertie Klan, not nearly the force it had been in Halifax, tried desperately to mount an offensive, but had to settle for a number of cross-burnings. We clearly had the initiative.
 
A major issue was the refusal by the County Board of Commissioners to approve the entrance of Federal food commodities and the new Federal Food Stamp Program into the county.  The planters wanted neither for obvious reasons -- primarily to keep the sharecroppers down and totally dependent -- and the urban merchants, such as they were, while not wanting commodities, did want -- for commercial reasons -- the food stamps.
 
We organized close to six hundred sharecroppers, Black -- and some Tuscaroras from the swamp country -- and marched through the small county seat of Windsor to the courthouse on the day the commissioners met.  This had been preceded by our written demand notification to them: we wanted both commodities and stamps. And we also told them that we were coming in numbers.  [The U.S. Department of Agriculture was amenable to both programs concurrently in especially needy counties.]
 
The high sheriff and a few deputies on the courthouse steps watched  us as we marched up and down -- truly a mass -- in front of the courthouse.  Behind the building were many other lawmen -- some regulars, some specially deputized for the occasion.  Finally, the door opened.  A very ancient old white man, a commissioner, came out.  Looking at the hundreds of very dark faces and mine, he asked  -- knowing, of course, very visually precisely who I was -- "Is Mistah John Salter here?"
 
I raised my hand.  "We would like you to come in," he said politely, "and meet with us."
 
"I'll be glad to," I replied, "but we have local leaders who must also come."  He nodded, again politely.
 
Inside, we negotiated for about an hour and a half.  Upshot: the Bertie County Board of Commissioners approved the entrance of both Federal food commodities and the new Federal Food Stamp Program.
 
That was for sure a good day.  And there were many other productive Bertie adventures -- and then we were in Northampton County and some others.
 
All of it worked out very well indeed.
 
So now, as I watch the television shots of death and destruction, I remember.  And, sad into the very marrow of my bones, I know one thing for sure:  those very, very tough Bertie people will never -- ever -- be put down.
 
Here are some interesting photos from the historic Black Belt Conference in Bertie County.  They were taken by our very good friend and colleague, the late J.V. Henry.  http://www.hunterbear.org/a_sampling_of_photos_from.htm
 
And here is our Link to our classic Black-Belt Klan story:  Handling the Klan on Easter Sunday, 1965.  http://hunterbear.org/handling_the_klan_on_easter_sund.htm
 
In Solidarity,
 
Hunter Bear
 

SOME ANTI-KLAN STUFF [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]  POSTED APRIL 23 2012.

Google has its good points.  Now and then  I find on it something of mine, or relating to me and others I've known in the past.  I am not an inveterate/constant letter writer -- but  try, at least, to write carefully and selectively and with maximum effectiveness.  Here is one of several KKK letters I wrote to media during our Northeastern North Carolina Black Belt campaign in the mid-60s.  The Alabama-based United Klans of America was at that time extremely strong in North Carolina. By the State's estimate -- there were maybe 20,000 in 1964 / 65.
 
Along with other smaller hate groups, United Klans was a deadly adversary of ours.  In those days, I received a great many death threats.  Even the laggard and usually hostile FBI was sufficiently concerned to send a young agent to our home in Raleigh early in 1965 with a warning that the UKA in Bessemer Alabama (near Birmingham) and that in Wake County, NC [Raleigh] were involved in a plot to bomb our house. He said the Feds could do nothing in the situation and nodded approvingly when I showed him my .38 Special Smith and Wesson revolver.  We lived in an all-Black neighborhood on the very edge of Raleigh.  I advised our heavily armed neighbors who always watched our home when I was gone for various periods of time up in the Black Belt area. I could get back home only intermittedly.  Maria was barely three, if that -- and Eldri was pregnant with John.  In the end, that Klan plot fizzled.
 
http://web.co.wake.nc.us/lee/vf/kkk/19650201lwua/19650201lwua.pdf (One of my letters calling for state action against the KKK in North Carolina. Just found on Google!)
 
 
Here is a link to a United Klans leaflet from our campaign in Halifax County, NC. It's one of a number during that period.  Held at night in a field, several of us secretly watched it from a grove of pines.  Had no problem seeing and listening to it since it was lighted and broadcast to the conclave of many hundreds via a generator on the back of a flatbed truck.  Three huge burning crosses.
 
From our Lair of Hunterbear website:
 
 I've been an organizer all of my life and I always will be one -- and you have to be tough, damn tough, to be a really effective organizer.   Here, quoted by Attorney David Kopel  [formerly an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and  an  active civil libertarian] in his essay, "Trust the People," is a part of the critically important legacy given by Frank Dolphin to me.

"In the 1950s and 1960s, a new civil rights movement began in the South. White supremacist tactics were just as violent as they had been during Reconstruction. Blacks and civil rights workers armed for self-defense.

John Salter, a professor at Tougaloo College and chief organizer of the N.A.A.C.P.'s Jackson Movement during the early 1960s, wrote, "No one knows what kind of massive racist retaliation would have been directed against grass-roots black people had the black community not had a healthy measure of firearms within it."

Salter personally had to defend his home and family several times against attacks by night riders. After Salter fired back, the night riders fled.

The unburned Ku Klux Klan cross in the Smithsonian Institution was donated by a civil rights worker whose shotgun blast drove Klansmen away from her driveway.

State or federal assistance sometimes came not when disorder began but when blacks reacted by arming themselves. In North Carolina, Governor Terry Sanford refused to command state police to protect a civil rights march from Klan attacks. When Salter warned Governor Sanford that if there were no police, the marchers would be armed for self-defense, the Governor provided police protection."

 
Our classic Klan story from North Carolina, of course, is the huge -- really huge -- United Klans rally held in the northern part of Halifax County on Easter Sunday, 1965. It began in the early afternoon and drew UKA members from all over the South.  We defeated that non-violently -- among other things via our mass picnic of Blacks and some Indians immediately adjacent to the Klan affair.  In the end, the Klan leaders cut the affair short -- never even made it into the night. Their three huge crosses burned in the daylight.  http://hunterbear.org/handling_the_klan_on_easter_sund.htm
 
Our multi-county Northeastern North Carolina Black Belt project was eminently successful.  And, in the end, we drove the Klan out of that entire region.  http://hunterbear.org/NORTH%20CAROLINA_OUR%20SUCCESSFUL%20BLACK%20BELT%20MOVEMENT.htm

 
 
A KKK group has recently formed here in Pocatello -- Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, affiliated with its home base in Florida and related to several Klan units in Georgia and elsewhere.  Worth keeping an eye on -- but Idaho really isn't its natural habitat.  However, there are some other similar "things" in our region.  We always have a couple of loaded firearms in our house -- 'way up high on the far western edge of Pocatello and a stone's throw from BLM lands.
 
 
In Solidarity,
 
Hunter Bear
 

CLEMENCY LETTER TO NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR   [HUNTER GRAY   1/05/02 ]

Honorable Mike Easley
Governor
State of North Carolina
Raleigh

Dear Governor Easley:

I am writing you, from Idaho, to urge clemency in the case of Mr. Charles
Mason Alston, Jr.  who I understand is scheduled for execution on January
11, 2002.  At the same time, I respectfully urge you to use your good
offices to declare a moratorium on all executions in the state.  That would
be courageously consistent with the spirit that is now, with whatever
deliberate speed, emerging in our country.

A sociologist, and a mixed-blood Native American, I was privileged to spend
the years 1961-67 in the South, consistently and deeply involved in the
Civil Rights Movement.  Initially, I was extremely active in Mississippi
where I was a prime organizer of the historic Jackson Movement and chair of
its strategy committee. [It was during this sanguinary struggle that our
very good friend and colleague, Medgar W. Evers, was murdered.] At the end
of the summer of 1963, I became Field Organizer for the Southern Conference
Educational Fund [headed by the Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth of
Birmingham, National Secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference.]

Focusing on systematic grassroots civil rights and anti-Klan organizing, I
was based at Raleigh -- 828 Newcombe Road, in Biltmore Hills, and from there
worked across the hard-core South.  I increasingly came to concentrate my
organizing efforts in the rigidly segregated, poverty-stricken, and
Klan-infested Northeastern North Carolina Black Belt.  Those efforts began
in earnest in Halifax County in the late winter of 1964, and then moved out
across the Black Belt:  Northampton County, Bertie, Hertford, into Nash and
Edgecombe -- with significant involvements in the broad, surrounding areas.
We used non-violent direct action, economic boycotts, Federal lawsuits via
our own attorneys, and  intensive voter registration/education/political
action.  Our major voting case, brought by our attorneys, was won in Federal
District Court at Raleigh in May, 1964:  Alston v. Butts.  Later, the case
of Willa Johnson v. Joseph Branch et al. established -- when the USSC
refused to hear North Carolina's appeal of our Fourth Circuit victory -- the
right of all Black public school teachers to engage in civil rights
activities without being summarily fired [as Ms. Johnson -- now Dr Willa
Cofield -- had been, by the Halifax County School Board and its District
Committee.  And there were other cases.

Out of that struggle -- which lasted for me well into 1967 -- came many
victories:  we broke the hard lines of resistance to social change and
established strong and democratic grassroots movements with vigorous local
leadership. We established the right to organize and dissent and register
and vote. Widespread and increasing Black political participation began and
has continued vigorously, of course, to this moment. Very substantial
desegregation -- and increasing integration -- emerged. We won major
victories for sharecroppers. The Klan was driven out of the Black Belt and
the oft-pervasive atmosphere of terrorism ended. There was a basis for
democratic, interracial unionism -- and, indeed, much of that has emerged.

Attorney T.T. Clayton of Warrenton was always very helpful.   Congresswoman
Eva Clayton recently conveyed to me her very cordial regards via a mutual
friend.

I keep very much in touch with both Mississippi and North Carolina.  My
oldest son, now a successful writer with a book coming out next month via an
Alabama University Press, was born at Raleigh in 1965.

I have taken occasion to look closely into the Charles Mason Alston, Jr.
case.  It seems very clear to me, as it obviously does to so many others,
that, at the very least, many very substantive questions exist in his
case -- questions so clear and so obvious that clemency from your good
offices is eminently warranted and compelled.

I thank you, Governor, for your consideration and I wish you well.

Sincerely,

Hunter Gray [ known in those days as John R. Salter, Jr.]
2000 Sandy Lane
Pocatello, Idaho 83204

 

[AND SENTENCE COMMUTED!  HUNTER GRAY   1/10/02]

Friends -- from Hunterbear:

It's certainly a very good feeling indeed to be able to report that Governor
Mike Easley of North Carolina  has just commuted the death sentence of
Charles Mason Alston, Jr of Warren County to life imprisonment.

Obviously, thanks to everyone who sent e-mails to the Governor -- and who
thought good thoughts.  Thanks especially to Ed Whitfield of Greensboro who
brought it to our attention.  Here's the story:



ESTES THOMPSON
Associated Press Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A condemned man who steadfastly denied beating his
girlfriend to death in 1990 escaped execution Thursday as Gov. Mike Easley
commuted his death sentence to life in prison.


Charlie Mason Alston Jr., 42, was to die by injection at 2 a.m. Friday at
Central Prison.


Alston was sentenced to death in 1992 for the beating and suffocation death
of his former girlfriend, Pamela Renee Perry, who was hit in the face with a
hammer.


No one saw the killing and no blood or fingerprint evidence connected the
attack to Alston, who had been convicted about six weeks earlier of
assaulting Perry.


Alston, a brick mason, contended his innocence would be proved by DNA tests
on evidence that has disappeared. Prosecutors said the evidence, scrapings
from beneath Perry's fingernails, would confirm the guilty verdict.


At the time, DNA evidence wasn't commonly used in murder trials. Just last
year, the Legislature approved a law allowing every inmate charged with
first-degree murder to request a DNA test.



Defense attorneys asked Easley to grant clemency because the law should
apply to Alston. State courts already have rejected similar arguments.


The state said in documents filed in the U.S. Supreme Court that the
evidence was "anything but weak ... that verdict has withstood the tests of
time and close scrutiny by both state and federal courts simply because the
evidence is so strong."


Easley did not specify why he commuted the sentence.


"After long and careful consideration of all the facts and circumstances of
this case in its entirety, I conclude that the appropriate sentence for the
defendant is life in prison without parole," he said.


The Supreme Court rejected Alston's two remaining appeals Thursday
afternoon. As his execution approached, Alston met with his parents, brother
and son and talked to his lawyers, while supporters scheduled protest
rallies around the state and at the governor's mansion.


"This case involves a man sentenced to death despite the fact that not a
single shred of physical evidence tied him to the murder," said Steven
Hawkins, executive director of the Washington-based National Coalition to
Abolish the Death Penalty.

 

FROM AN IDAHO WINDOW: THINGS -- INCLUDING PHONE MONITORING IN NORTH CAROLINA  [HUNTER GRAY  AUGUST 9 2012]

 

Fires continue fairly close by and around the region. No real rain anywhere but there are dry lightning strikes -- and more fires.  Pocatello set a heat record yesterday -- over 100 degrees. It's only a little cooler up where we are.  Since Climate Change/Global Warming doesn't seem inclined to leave, we're definitely going to have indoor air conditioning for next summer and will look for a "deal" when winter comes.  Difficult as the foregoing matters can be around here, there are, of course, vast numbers of other people who have it far worse then we.
 
And Winter will come.  Strong as the hand Global Warming holds, it'll be trumped by Seasonal Change.  (If that, by some unimaginable chance, doesn't come, then it likely is End Times. But I don't see that in the cards.]
 
The other day, I suggested that, if anyone feels his or her computer is being "monitored" -- and can point to some suspicious indications, and there is some kind of warranty involved, try writing directly to the "head office" of your system and say you want those problems corrected -- or you want a new computer.  You may well see things improve. On the other hand, of course, you should always assume the computer continues to be "monitored."
 
Frankly, having come of radical age in the mid-50s, I always assume everything is monitored by various adversaries. Some might call that "paranoid" but I like the term, "earned paranoia."
 
When I was field organizer for the Southern Conference Educational Fund, my office was based in our home in an all-Black outlying neighborhood at Raleigh, NC. Our phone situation became so difficult that it was often hard to hear anyone with whom I was conversing.  (Highly probable culprits were the FBI and the NC State Bureau of Investigation -- maybe hate groups.)  In those days, I was gone from home for long periods, sometimes in other parts of the South but very much up in our multi-county Northeastern NC Black Belt project -- anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours or more from Raleigh. Klan threats were constant -- our always armed neighbors watched things carefully when I was gone.  Even the hostile FBI felt obliged to warn us of the bomb plot against our home being jointly hatched by United Klans in North Carolina and Alabama [that scheme fizzled -- maybe because our neighborhood was known to be bristling with firearms]. Eldri was pregnant with Beba (John), Maria was tiny. 
 
And phone communication was beginning to feel like we were based on some far off planet.
 
On my mother's side of the family, there were some capitalists.  She, herself, had a fair amount of AT & T stock and her father and her two brothers each had a whole lot more.  Upshot was that a very strong message about our phone problems was conveyed by an uncle [in Birmingham, Alabama] directly to the top of AT & T.  And who should come scurrying to our modest little home but the general manager of the NC phone set up himself, with two assistants -- traveling 200 miles or so from Charlotte.  There was an ostensibly thorough investigation of our phone situation and, not surprisingly, we were finally informed weeks later that nothing adverse could be found.  But our heavy phone communication problems had ended long before that.  The FBI followed all of this closely, judging from the heavily blacked out pages on the phone matter in my huge cache of FBI files secured by me years later via FOIA/PA.  Even J. Edgar Hoover took note.
 
Up in the Black Belt, it was a local phone system owned by Congressman L.H. Fountain, a rank segregationist, of course, and very much an enemy.  There our phones were so heavily bugged we could even hear police calls.  That was so blatant that, the next time we encountered anything remotely similar, was here in Pocatello soon after we arrived fifteen years ago.
 
Our Black Belt project was a great success.  And, in that context, we drove the Klan out of the whole area.  Beba was born just fine -- and, in the years following, other offspring arrived -- and now many offspring of offspring.
 
But there have always been, wherever we are, enemies, some venomous -- and I've always had at least a couple of loaded firearms in our home.  That's quite true right here in Idaho where there are still some hostile indications.
 
Some people know guns, know the hunting cultures, know ethical self defense.  Others don't.  And some -- some of those who don't -- can be extremely obnoxious.
 
A word on "effete."  I picked that up when I was 21 and a student at the University of Arizona.  I was studying, outside of classes, the Western Federation of Miners.  Much WFM material was in special collections at the U of A.  Several WFM writers used the term, "effete", to refer to the American Federation of Labor -- of which the Western miners were most justifiably critical in those days.  As I mentioned on Redbadbear yesterday, if the usage of the term was good enough for Ed Boyce and Bill Haywood and Vincent St John, it's good enough for me.
 
Hunter Bear
 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'
www.hunterbear.org
(much social justice material)
 
For the new, just out (11/2011) and expanded/updated
edition of my "Organizer's Book," JACKSON MISSISSIPPI --
with a new and substantial Introduction by me:
http://hunterbear.org/jackson.htm
 
Our community organizing course:
http://hunterbear.org/my_combined_community_organizing.htm
 
Personal Background Narrative (with many links):
http://hunterbear.org/narrative.htm

 

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