Patti's Journal Entries

August 7, 1964

Whew! - what a day!! This one - the longest and most trying yet!

At six o’clock - roused from my sound slumbers (after getting to sleep at 1:00 this morning) to go out and help canvass neighborhoods (Negro) to pass out leaflets telling about James Chaney’s funeral tonight. - And what an eye-opening early morning walk. - Many homes were quite ordinary - but others were unbelievable! The dirt roads between rows of shacks - up broken wooden steps - onto porches - dodging holes in the boards to get to doors and slip the leaflets in or under the doors - The ones I talked to were very nice - concerned - wanted to know all about it - . Some took the leaflet but didn’t read it. - Undoubtedly they couldn’t - It seems incredible that many in the Negro community cannot even write their names! -

Bud - a large - tall- strong blond fellow - ex-student-body president of Stanford - will go to Germany in September (Berlin University) and I canvassed together - always the fear - especially when walking on the porches of the nice homes - what if white folks live here? - --always the fear - but we continued faithfully - never considering doing anything but that.

Community Center was closed today - so had more time to organize, etc. The local police came up to the office today to help route the silent march from Negro churches to the funeral - They were very cordial and helpful and co-operative. - I was really quite surprised! -

Tonight was James Chaney’s Funeral ------ We met at 4 different churches - were asked to wear dark clothing - then marched silently to 1st Union Church for the funeral. I couldn’t help but admire the courage of the many many Negro citizens of Meridian who joined the march - for I was very much afraid. - The walk was very slow - and very long. --- I wondered all the way how things would go. - We walked through a white part of town. - One small lady - in shorts and blouse - hair in rollers - stepped out on her front porch across the street - as we walked by ----- several times she called out - “Hey-white girl - you gonna’ marry one of them? Don’t you-all know the Lord make us black and white for a reason?”

I felt very conspicuous - I’m growing to hate my white skin - for more reasons than one. - there were about 5 COFO workers in the long line - we met many more marchers at the freedom school - and walked on - The line grew longer and longer - and still slow ---still silent.

Upon arriving at the church, - I breathed a great sigh of relief - Safe journey - and stationed right outside the church were 4 of the 5 Negro policemen on the force here - the other I had noticed driving past us several times. I had also noticed the car with 4 white police - and others nearby throughout the route. - Also, I noticed the sunset. - It’s much more beautiful in the midst of this fear - and hatred - and grime - and filth - and injustice ----- One needs the beauty of the sunset ------ very much! -------

The church was very full -- by the time the service was over - people were standing all around - and over 100 were outside. I sat in the overflow room - I could see none of the speakers - but I saw the T.V. cameras and the seemingly hundreds of reporters as I walked in. - I can’t forget the long mural on the wall in the overflow room - depicting Christ’s life – and the whitest Jesus - with blond hair. - Don’t the Negroes get tired of white television - white newspapers - white law - white - white - white!?!?

The service was very meaningful - very moving. - All day I had felt quite burdened with thoughts and realizations too large for my small head.- As the service started, the first was a Negro minister to begin with prayer.

James Chaney's parents and
brother Ben
- Never before had I heard the Negro worship ---- the Amens -- responses from the congregation. -- As the minister prayed - responses sounded forth - here and there throughout the church. - Once in a while it seemed a small rumble as many responded. - And then the minister began praying - not for James Chaney - or the Negro community - but instead “----and for these brave young people - leaving their homes - coming hundreds and

Ben Chaney at 40th annual graveside service for his brother, James
thousands of miles to help us..........” - and the church resounded with affirmative Amens and responses....... - and the minister continued - and I could not stop the tears. They rolled down my cheeks - and as never before - I realized the strength of the community - Negro or white - of the Church     I was not alone. How can one be? This is not a personal endeavor - it is a communal endeavor - and as the tears flowed, - I literally felt a “burden” rising from my shoulders. My whole body relaxed and I felt free in the midst of the sorrow and strife - and ugliness.-------
Other speakers were excellent - the service was definitely a worshipful one.

The walk home was worst. - Fear filled me - and I could feel my white skin glowing in the midst of my Negro companions - but finally - with very sore and tired legs and back, we reached home. ---

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