Friday, July 5, 2019

SCOPE50 Newsletter - April 2019

             SCOPE50 News                     
The Struggle Continues!                                                                                                                                                                                                     April 2019
Hospital Workers Strike, Charleston, SC, 1969
In 1969, when twelve women at Charleston's Medical College Hospital refused to air their grievances about low wages and long hours individually, as their supervisors insisted they do, they were fired.  When other nurses and nurse assistants, both at the Medical College Hospital and two other local hospitals, heard about the dismissals, they went on strike, insisting the hospital rehire the dozen protesters and consider their complaints.  The strike lasted for 113 days.  SCLC was asked for its support, and Dr. Abernathy, believing this was a logical continuation of the Poor People's Campaign, sent staff to Charleston to assist the hospital workers in their efforts.  Dr. Abernathy himself spent half the strike behind bars on a charge of inciting riot.
This March was the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the strike, and several events have been planned in Charleston to honor the strikers and their contribution to the civil and labor rights movements.  On March 23, the co-chairs of the renewed Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival – Rev. William Barber II and Rev. Liz Theoharis – were guest speakers at a program honoring the women, but they also discussed the need to build a new Poor People's Campaign.  Rev. Barber, architect of the Moral Monday Movement, is head of the social justice organization, Repairers of the Breach.
John Reynolds, representing SCLC, also spoke, outlining SCLC's role during the strike and describing some of his responsibilities, for example, leading young people through downtown, ringing cowbells and bouncing basketballs, to discourage the white residents from shopping at the downtown stores as part of a boycott of local businesses to apply economic pressure that might prompt merchants to push the hospitals to reach a settlement.
               Louise Brown, one of the 12 hospital workers     Vera Small, youngest of the 12 hospital workers
Eventually, the two sides struck a deal.  The nurses received a modest raise, and a grievance procedure was set in place.  The outcome was hailed as a victory.  The strikers' complaints were acknowledged.  The Hospital Workers Strike had been a bold fusion of labor power and civil rights protest that transformed Charleston, South Carolina, and the nation.
Poor Peoples Campaign
At its last annual meeting, the SCOPE50 Board voted to partner with the new Poor People's Campaign since SCLC has given up its claim to the Poor People's Campaign, one of SCLC's last major projects, which a number of us worked on.  Since that meeting, we have been attempting to put a working relationship together, and we are now at the stage of collaboration.  The Rev. William Barber has picked up where Dr. Abernathy and Hosea Williams left off in 1969, and has announced that fairly soon there will be a nationwide bus tour meant to draw attention to the nation's 95 million Americans considered poor or low-income.  We will provide more details at a later date.
Rev. Barber states that the number of Americans in poverty has increased by 60%, to 40.6 million, since the late 1960s, according to an Institute of Poverty Studies report prepared for the Poor People's Campaign.  The majority of American poor, more than 17 million people, are white.  The number of poor blacks is 9.2 million.  And about 11 million of the country's poor are Latinos, according to the report.  When Dr. King conceived of the Poor People's Campaign in 1968, he believed that we could make a significant dent in poverty.  But according to this report, that hasn't become a reality.  One of the reasons that SCOPE50 voted to partner with the new Poor People's Campaign is because we feel that this is still an important issue.
Article about Richard Smiley and Lanny Kaufer
In the last issue of the SCOPE50 Newsletter, we reported on the visit that Richard Smiley and Lanny Kaufer made to the Midland School in Los Olivos, California – Richard's high school alma mater – where they shared their experiences in the Civil Rights Movement.  A local newspaper (the Santa Ynez Valley News) published an article about their visit, which we thought we would share with you.
Civil rights veterans visit Santa Ynez Valley; remember Selma March, Martin Luther King, Jr.
 by Lisa Andre
The Santa Ynez Valley has a connection to some of the most historic events of the Civil Rights Movement recalled during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and Black History Month. Richard Smiley, 70, a civil rights activist and 1968 graduate of Midland School in Los Olivos, was invited back to his alma mater in late January to speak to students and teachers about his personal experiences during the height of desegregation and the fight for equal voting rights in the South.  Friend and fellow civil rights veteran Lanny Kaufer, a UCSB student during that time, joined him in the presentation.
Richard Smiley
Smiley stood before a wide-eyed group of eager listeners in Midland's library, giving detailed accounts of his youth in Alabama, remembering when the KKK would surround their community meetings. He shared about one event in particular, a peaceful demonstration which quickly escalated, garnering national attention: "Bloody Sunday."
Top of Form
Bloody Sunday:  During that time, African Americans made up more than half of Selma's population and constituted a mere 2 percent of the registered voters. Addressing the inequality were hundreds of Selma demonstrators, one of which was 15-year-old Smiley, who from an early age understood the importance of his role in the civil rights movement.  "I went to jail every day," Smiley said, explaining how he dropped out of high school at 15 to stand in solidarity with his brothers and sisters. "I had a moral obligation."
On Sunday, March 7, 1965, in their first attempt to march peacefully from Selma to Montgomery, a 54-mile hike over the Alabama River via the Edmund Pettus Bridge and down US Highway 80, an estimated 600 civil rights marchers congregated, protesting the obstruction of African Americans' right to register and vote. They were met with violent opposition by state troopers.  Led by Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglas Reese, according to Smiley, "We marched from the church to the bridge and saw 200 white men on horses with billy clubs; then another 200 state troopers. When we kneeled to pray, they attacked us, pushing us back across the bridge and back to the church. They tear gassed us."  In all, 17 marchers were hospitalized and 50 were treated for lesser injuries.
Smiley said King flew out to assist, encouraging the protesters to stay focused and remain undeterred. Just two days later on March 9, King led the second march across the bridge, which was met with little resistance.  "There were a lot of white people, community leaders -- even dignitaries that showed up to march. There were at least 1,000 this time. Nothing happened. We kept praying," Smiley said. "We would shout, 'What you want now!' and others would yell back, 'freedom!"'
On Sunday, March 21, a third march, amassing as many as 3,200 marchers, headed from Selma for Montgomery on 12-mile-per-day walk that took four days.  "The court ruled we had the right to march. We would sleep in tents along the way. There were undercover FBI agents and state troopers protecting the marchers," Smiley said.  By the time they reached the capitol on March 25, they were 25,000 marchers strong. And in less than five months, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, federal legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
Midland 1968:  Taken in by a very nice white lady as a child, Smiley said he was given an ultimatum: Stop the protesting or be kicked out.  Referring to his foster mother, Smiley said, "She had her job and reputation on the line.  I understood."  Despite the difficult choice, he chose the latter.  Forced out into the streets, Smiley became homeless at 16, sleeping in churches or wherever there was shelter. He said that the black community took care of him, even guiding him to stay at King's Freedom House in Atlanta for safety.  "Dr. King was a joker, he liked to have fun. People tend to think he was always serious, but he was human," Smiley recalled of times spent with the civil rights leader.
Then one day, everything changed.  Bob Fitch, a civil rights era photojournalist hired by King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), took Smiley under his wing, reaching out to friend Carl Munger, a faculty member at Midland School (headmaster in 1968), to inquire about enrolling Smiley into school.  In response, Munger stopped in Atlanta to interview Smiley. Not long after, Smiley was accepted into Midland and was sent via bus to Los Olivos. "I was the only black student there," he recalled.  Smiley further explained how incredibly bonded his cohort of 13 students became, insomuch that when King was killed on April 4, 1968, his class pooled enough money to buy him a flight to attend the funeral in Atlanta. "Our class loved each other," he said.
In 1968, Smiley finished his last year of high school and graduated from Midland, receiving a letter of completion that enabled him to attend a California community college.  "Even when I left Midland, I'd come back and hang with them," he said of his cohorts. "We just celebrated our 50th class reunion in June 2018."  Smiley, who currently resides in Tampa, Florida, received his official diploma from Midland in 2003, earned a bachelor's degree from Cal State and a masters degree from the University of Utah.  He is a retired 24-year juvenile probation officer and an adjunct professor at Hillsborough Community College.
UCSB South:  Ojai resident Lanny Kaufer, 72, a musician, songwriter, retired high school teacher, and part-time university professor, remembered his time as an 18-year-old UCSB student and activist, who not only witnessed the passing of the Voting Rights Act in August 1965, but had a hand in it.  Kaufer said he shared his story with Midland students through music, at first describing his summer working with King through a special rap. "I think they were kind of amazed," he said laughing.
Lanny Kaufer        (Photo credit Jim Quick)
Further detailing, he said, in 1964, as a freshman at UC Santa Barbara, he heard a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) representative speak about King's new voter registration project scheduled for the following summer.  "I thought, 'here's a chance to make a real difference,"' he said.  This prompted him to volunteer.  "Both of my parents were refugees. My father escaped from the Nazis in '38 and my mother's parents escaped the Russians," he said, relating his activist nature to the moral compass they handed down to him. "My parents always taught me to respect other cultures. I was primed."
As a chapter member of the SCLC program's SCOPE Project (Summer Community Organization and Political Education), Kaufer flew to southern Virginia in the summer of 1965 where he became part of the organized movement canvassing the South in an effort to register black voters. Despite a series of race-related incidents in which he and his team were refused service at a restaurant; a laundromat owner locking them inside the building, threatening them and throwing their clean clothes onto the floor; and an indirect incident that involved a fellow chapter member being driven off the road in his car, Kaufer stayed the course.
Their local SCOPE Chapter was able to extend the hours of voter registration and establish an improvement association that still exists today, by going door-to-door, attending community meetings, showing up at local churches, and doing real "grunt work," according to Kaufer. "We registered 49,000 new voters that summer."  The highlight of his summer, he says, was shaking King's hand and hearing him speak, which greatly inspired him. "I got to see the fulfillment of Dr. King's nonviolent strategies. It was really profound for me, but there is still a lot of work to be done."

50th anniversary:  From Oct. 1-4, 2015, SCLC's SCOPE Project members from across the country gathered to celebrate 50 years since the fight for justice in the South began. The organization recognized as 'SCOPE 50,' a non-partisan organization which promotes and encourages voter registration nationally, is where Kaufer and Smiley first crossed paths.  Little did they know that they also had Santa Barbara County in common.  Having both been teenagers when they answered King's call to spend the summer of 1965 in the South registering black people to vote, the two are now on the board of directors for SCOPE 50, where they see each other or talk to each other on a regular basis.  "We talk between board meetings," Smiley said.
An Update on Lanny Kaufer's Presentations
Recently, students at Matilija Junior High School in Ojai, California, formed a human swastika on campus, resulting in media coverage which sparked a community discussion on hate.  In an article published in the Los Angeles Times, it was reported that authorities say that few hate incidents are reported in this liberal valley town.  But at a community forum, several black and Jewish residents reported on their personal experiences with racism and anti-Semitism.  The Los Angeles Times article quoted Lanny Kaufer:  "As a Jewish person, I was very sad to see this happen.  But as a teacher, I see it as a teachable moment.   I think it's great that this came out in the open," he said.    "I think it's been a long time coming."
The school district has announced plans to require all Matilija students to engage in social and emotional learning curriculum in response to the incident.  Lanny has been invited to bring his presentation to all 5th grade classes.
Possible Online Bookshop
A number of us on the Board of SCOPE50 have been trying to figure out a way to promote books that have been written by SCOPE workers and SCLC staff, possibly creating an online bookstore.   A small committee, led by Lanny Kaufer and Jo Freeman, are working on this.  In the meantime we have put a list of books on the SCOPE50 website ( and we will be adding to this list.  If you know of additional books that should be on this list, please contact Lanny Kaufer at
Annual SCOPE50 Board Meeting
The annual SCOPE50 board meeting will be held May 16-19, 2019, at a conference facility in the Charleston, South Carolina, area.
A Loss in our SCOPE50 Family
We received the sad news that our friend and colleague Lynn Goldberg had unexpectedly lost her husband Larry.  It was a shock to all of us since Lynn had reported a couple weeks before that Larry was responding well to treatment.  We encourage all of you to hold Lynn in prayer.  Larry had been supportive of SCOPE50 and the work that Lynn had been doing, and he had accompanied her to SCOPE50 events.  

SCOPE50 Newsletter - June 2019

             SCOPE50 News                     
The Struggle Continues!                                                                                                                                                                                                     June 2019
SCOPE50 Annual Board Meeting, May 2019
The SCOPE50 Board of Directors met on May 16-18 for their annual Board meeting, on Seabrook Island, South Carolina.  In attendance were John Reynolds (President), Jo Freeman (Secretary), Lanny Kaufer (Recording Secretary), Barbara Williams Emerson, Sherie Labedis, Richard Smiley, and Mary Whyte.  Following are some of the topics that were discussed:
Presentations:  On May 15, a day before the start of the Board meeting, Lanny Kaufer did his presentation at a local high school on John Island (St. Johns High School) which was attended by most of the student body.  Lanny and David Childs had prepared for the event at the school, but unfortunately some technical issues forced Lanny to cut back on his presentation.  At the board meeting, the board discussed how we might use Lanny's presentation in other parts of the country.  It was suggested that Lanny and Richard Smiley do a presentation together, as they had done a few months ago in Los Olivos, California. 
African-American Museum:  John reported that he and his wife Gloria had visited the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in April.  He said that there are several areas in the museum that deal with the history of SCLC.  One of the areas is SCOPE and Hosea.  Another is the Poor People's Campaign.  There is a section on Dr. King.  Dr. Abernathy is in the political section along with Jesse Jackson.  And there is also a section on SCLC's Citizenship Education program.  John said that there is still some difficulty getting admittance to the museum because of the large groups going in, so it is necessary to get tickets in advance.  It is possible to do the museum in a full day, but it would be better to visit the museum over two days. 
Fundraising:  It was proposed that we ask SCOPE50 members who have professional fundraising experience if they would be willing to help support our fundraising efforts, perhaps taking on grant writing and other aspects of fundraising.  This would free up the President from having to search for grants and write proposals.   Interested SCOPE50 members should contact John Reynolds at JohnR99773@ 
John announced that the Sounds of Motown 2 will take place on February 21, 2020.  The first Motown event in February 2018 was SCOPE50's most successful fundraising activity. 
Outreach:  John and Mary have been meeting with a possible donor over the last several months.  This donor is a surgeon and philanthropist with an interest in bringing arts into public schools.  He has expressed interest in providing funds for SCOPE50's mission, and he attended one of the board meetings to discuss SCOPE50's financial needs.  The board focused primarily on our oral history project with the ultimate goal of bringing this history into schools across the country as well as archiving it with the Library of Congress.  The board presented a budget to the donor, who agreed to continue discussions with the board. 
Voter Registration:  For the past few months we have been working on a plan for our 2020 voter registration efforts.  We know that we need to put more boots on the ground in 2020, so we have been looking for partners to work with.  Also, we have been looking for funding so that an organizer could be hired.  We have reached out to labor organizations and political organizations such as the DNC.  At its annual meeting the Board decided that we should partner with the League of Women Voters.  We have done some work with the League, but we are hoping to broaden and solidify that partnership for 2020. 
Recently, an individual made a donation towards our voter registration effort, with a specific interest in disenfranchisement of Native Americans.  The Board committed to doing the best we can to include the needs of Native Americans in any voter registration work.  We encourage SCOPE50 members to reach out to tribes in their area, and partner with them on voting issues.  If members identify tribes where there has been voter suppression, please pass that information to the Board. 
Hospital Workers Strike:  Activities relating to the 50th anniversary of the Charleston hospital workers strike have continued over the past few months.  In May, John arranged for Andy Young to come to Charleston and meet with these hospital workers.  The local press has done a great deal of reporting on this anniversary and its significance to the Civil Rights Movement.
There are two forthcoming documentaries for which John Reynolds has been interviewed.  One was for a local TV station's documentary on the hospital workers, which is scheduled to air in July.  The other was for a Smithsonian Channel documentary on Apollo 11; they are including the demonstration by SCLC and the hospital workers at the launch of Apollo 11 at Cape Canaveral in July 1969.
                                       Carolyn Murray, Anchor, WCBD-TV, Charleston             John Reynolds
New SCOPE50 Board Members:
At the annual Board meeting, two new members were elected to the Board of Directors.  Both of them have a history with SCOPE.  The first is Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of Ralph and Juanita Abernathy.  The second is Peggy Poole, who was assigned to Sussex County, Virginia, during the SCOPE project in 1965.  We welcome them both to the Board.
Poor People's Campaign:
The Board reaffirmed its partnership with the new Poor People's Campaign and our commitment to working with them.  The Board encourages SCOPE50 members to participate in the Poor People's Campaign when they come to your area.  In July there are events scheduled in Elmira, NY; Atlanta, GA; Rockville, MD; Columbia, SC; and Buffalo, NY.  For further information, check their Facebook page:
Democrat and Republican Conventions 2020
Jo Freeman submitted a proposal to the Board at its annual meeting, suggesting that SCOPE50 have a presence at the Democrat and Republican conventions next year. 
Following is her proposal:
"The Democrat Convention will be held in Milwaukee, July 13-16, and the Republican Convention will be held in Charlotte, August 24-27.  There is usually a major march the preceding Sunday; we should be prepared to participate.  There should also be press and delegate parties Saturday and Sunday evening.  That means arriving on Friday or Saturday, and leaving the next Friday or Saturday.  During convention week the Democrats will hold caucus and council meetings which are open to the public. There should be some way to take advantage of this.  The Republicans, but not the Democrats, hold their Platform and other Committee hearings the week before the convention. Sometimes these are places to protest.
"Purpose:  to promote our theme that the struggle continues to make the right to vote real. 
 I expect the GOP to do something major at its convention to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.  It was largely a Republican measure in 1919-20.  The actual date (Aug. 26) it became part of the Constitution is the third day of the convention.  The Republicans want to recoup lost women voters.   We can piggyback on that. I don't know if the Dems will celebrate woman suffrage, but defeating voter suppression is clearly a Democratic theme.  Our contribution is that this is not new.  Our members were fighting voter suppression (actually voter exclusion) over 50 years ago, and it wasn't new then.  We can offer live testimony about this.
"Theme:  Voter Fraud vs. voter suppression: what is the problem?   The Republicans made a big issue out of voter fraud, tiny though it is.  By using this as the theme we can appear to be nonpartisan.
"Publicity:  At the conventions we want to publicize the continuity of the struggle for the reality of voting, not just the right.  We can find spots to put up a table with literature and books as well as carry a banner in the marches.  Our table can display a sign that says something to the effect of Meet a Sixties Civil Rights Worker and find out some of the many ways that voting can be suppressed.  We can invite our members to come to the conventions to spend some time behind that table.  The conventions attract lots of press.  Reporters from all over the world are looking for something new or different to write about.  We can be that something.  We may also find places to do presentations such as that by Lanny and Smiley. 
"Preparation needs to start well in advance.  The details of exactly what we do when and where can wait.  The biggest problem will be finding a place to stay.  Hotels will be reserved well in advance.  I doubt we could find a hotel within 50 miles even if we could afford one.  However, people do open up their homes as a form of activism just as they did in the small towns we worked in in the Sixties.  We should ask our alums to contact their friends in the convention cities and see what we can find.  We need to rent or borrow a house on a public transportation line so we don't have to rely on cars to get to the main events."
After discussion, the Board voted to explore Jo's proposal, to include seeking potential committee members and leaders within SCOPE50 membership, finding SCOPErs in Milwaukee and Charlotte, and planning a Board teleconference meeting in a couple months to assess this.

Atlanta Oral History Gathering
After the annual board meeting, on May 22-25, a SCOPE50 film crew went to Atlanta to collect the oral histories of some of the SCOPE members who live in that area, and several interviews were conducted. 
                          Charles Allen Lingo, Jr.                   John and Terrie Randolph                    
                                  An example of the murals seen throughout Atlanta
We are continuing to collect oral histories.  The next location will be in Boston.  Also, we are in the process of seeing if we can collect oral histories from members by using Skype or FaceTime.  Several members have mentioned that this would be a better approach for them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Reminder: "Troublemaker" Memories of the Freedom Movement

Friday, May 10, 2019

"Troublemaker" Memories of the Freedom Movement

Sunday, April 28, 2019

"Troublemaker" Memories of the Freedom Movement