Book Excerpts

"Mass Meetings"

In retrospect........were it not for the mass meetings.......I think the Movement could not have kept up any momentum. When we met together and sang together and said our “Amens” together to the inspirational words of the speakers.......we were being recharged. Trying to have an effect on conditions which were deeply imbedded in a culture and in people’s hearts for generations.....was exhausting. Changing those deep conditions takes great effort and great persistence and that effort within every individual needs recharging often. That was what kept the Movement and the individuals within it going. The Mass Meetings were our fuel. One could enter a meeting feeling drained and alone and leave feeling energized and at one with every other person in the room or church. This is one of the many “secrets” of the black community and why I felt that there was a cohesiveness in that community that I had never experienced in my lily-white upbringing. It wasn’t just the community of civil rights workers that was so was the black community that had so generously allowed us to join be a part of and experience their magic. The singing kept us going and inspired us. This was always my experience whether it was in the south during Freedom Summer or in Chicago in huge African American churches or just in small staff meetings or in the office. When we sang together, we were re-fueled. We could keep going.

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