Saturday, March 24, 2018

SCOPE50 Newsletter - September 2016

              SCOPE50 News                     
The Fight is Not Over!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           September 2016

Early Voting Begins
Early voting began last week in North Carolina.  A number of states offer the opportunity for voters to cast a ballot before Election Day.  This can be done in three different ways.  (1) Early voting: In 37 states and D.C. qualified voters may cast a ballot in person during a designated period prior to Election Day. No excuse or justification is required.  (2) Absentee voting:  In 27 states and D.C., any qualified voter is permitted to vote absentee without offering an excuse.  In 20 states, an excuse is required in order to vote absentee.  (3) Mail voting.  Three states mail ballots to all eligible voters for every election.  Other states may provide this option for some types of elections.  It is important that you check your state requirements, because they differ from state to state.  For example, in North Carolina people can vote early during a certain period of time.  Whereas South Carolina may not have early voting, but it does have absentee voting where people can vote an absentee ballot in person if they meet certain qualifications. 
As we know, some states – mostly in the South – have put up obstacles which make it more difficult for people, particularly minorities, to vote.   Following are some excerpts from a statement that Congressman John Lewis recently made:  "Voting rights are under attack in America.  Quietly, gradually, state-by-state, the right to vote – a right that many people died to secure – is being taken away.  Today, we should be making it easy, simple, and convenient to vote.  Instead, legislatures around the nation are creating barriers and making it more difficult for citizens to vote.  There is not just one law, but many types of laws that are disenfranchising millions of voters:  voter photo identification laws, proof of citizenship laws, barriers to registration, elimination of early voting and absentee voting, and laws making it harder to restore voting rights for people who have paid their debt to society.  These laws are a barrier to an inclusive democracy.  We are stepping backward toward another dark time in our history.  We cannot separate the dangerous trend across this nation from our history and the struggle for the right to vote.  Before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, not so very long ago, it was almost impossible for some citizens to register and vote.  Many were harassed, jailed, beaten, and some were even killed for trying to participate in the democratic process.  The vote is the most powerful, non-violent tool we have in a democratic society.  We must not allow the power of the vote to be neutralized.  We must never go back."
During the last few weeks there have been some victories as appellate courts have struck down some of these laws.  In South Carolina we are going into high schools and registering junior and senior high school students and giving them the information they need to vote.  Please let us know what you are doing in your states so that we can share it with the SCOPE50 folks.

Boots on the Ground
SCOPE50 has boots on the ground in a few states in the South.  We are in Alabama, South Carolina and we hope to soon be in southern North Carolina.  We also have boots on the ground in Rhode Island.   We are looking to expand voter registration and the get-out-the-vote effort as we partner with other organizations.  For example, in South Carolina we have partnered with the Charleston County Library, and we hope to do this in Beaufort and Dorchester counties as well.  In Rhode Island we have partnered with the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island, which has shared the following with all their churches. years ago the Summer   Community  Organization for Political Education (SCOPE) program was envisioned and championed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a means to encourage people of good will to travel to the South and help register African-Americans to vote. Hundreds of volunteers from around the country answered Dr. King's call. Remembering that powerful movement, SCOPE50 is a renewed opportunity to band together to promote and encourage voter registration nationally.
Rev. John Reynolds, retired ABC minister, who previously pastored in Rhode Island writes to invite American Baptists in Rhode Island to participate in this grassroots "get out the vote" effort.  For more information on SCOPE50, click here.  
We are also in discussion with other faith groups.  Let us know what you are doing. 
SCOPE50 Public Service Announcement
A 30-second PSA will be going out this week to nationally syndicated radio programs, such as the Tom Joyner show, the D. L. Hughley show, and others.  We also plan to target some local stations, such as WVFG-FM ("Your connection to the Blackbelt") in Uniontown, Alabama.  The PSA can be used in your local community to encourage voter registration. 
A copy of the PSA audio file is attached to the e-mail along with this Newsletter. 
"With MLK and the Voting Rights Effort"
Those of you who attended the Reunion last year remember Lanny Kaufer's excellent multimedia presentation.  He has recently turned this into an 8-week course, which is offered by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a branch of the Extended University of Cal State University, Channel Islands.

Course Description: "In 1965 soon after the Selma to Montgomery March, college freshman Lanny Kaufer, imbued both with confidence and naiveté, volunteered as a foot soldier in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Voting Rights Campaign known as the Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE) Project. This teacher-songwriter-musician-activist will present a multimedia account of his experiences in the SCOPE voter registration civil rights initiative, providing an historical context of the Civil Rights Movement before, during, and following the tumultuous 1960s."  To learn more, visit Lanny's website:
(Thanks to all of you for letting me know what you are doing to spread the word.  Please continue to send me information that can be shared with other SCOPE50 folks.)
T-shirts now available
The SCOPE50 t-shirts are now available  (see next page) and can  be ordered from me.  The price is $15.00.  Let me know how many shirts you want, and the sizes.  Your check should be made out to SCOPE50 and mailed to 773 Spinnaker Beachhouse, Seabrook Island, SC  29455.  This is just another way that we can earn a little money.
SCOPE50 T-shirt.jpg


SCOPE50 Newsletter - February 2017

              SCOPE50 News                     
The Fight is Not Over!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            February 2017

Women's March on Washington
Jo Freeman participated in and took photos of the Women's March on Washington, along with inaugural and pre-inaugural protests.  Her stories, plus lots of photos, can be seen at:
The third URL is the Women's March.  It begins:
"Dear Mr. Trump:
I just returned from the Million Women's March on Washington, one of 673 that took place around the world today.  I want to thank you for making this possible.  It was your "locker room talk" that gave us the kick in the pants we needed to get off our asses.  Women and the men who support us have been complacent far too long.  Thanks to you, we now know that was a mistake."
SCOPE50 stands in support of all of the protests that have been taking place since January 20, particularly the Women's March.  We also stand in support of those who advocated for refugees in airports across the country.  We will be partnering with some of these organizations going forward, so we will be on the front lines and will be on the right side of history.

Report from Joseph Ruggiero, Antioch, California
In January 2016 we launched a voter registration drive.  Jennifer Westerman and I had been part of the SCOPE project 52 years ago.  We were able to get four activists involved, and we registered at least 700 people.  We began monthly meetings in September 2016 with eight people showing up.  Next week our monthly meeting will have 20-30 people.  In March we will have our first event with a group of 100-125 in attendance.  We want a united front of Labor and the Democratic Party.  In our monthly newsletter we list other groups' activities, especially Planned Parenthood.  We now have seven activists involved. 
Dr. King once said "Education is the key."  We have four books about the Movement which our group distributes to spread the word.  We also distribute the SCOPE50 t-shirts.  "The Freedom train is coming" – let's get on board!
Our group has developed three rules:  (1) You must be NON-VIOLENT.  (2) You must work for social change.  (3) We never assign tasks – we ask because we want people to work for whatever their passion is.  At our next meeting, a fourth rule will be proposed:  Get people's phone numbers or e-mail so they can be contacted about events.

SCOPE E-book
We still need chapters for the ebook on SCOPE.  Until we have enough chapters for a book, we will post them to  So far, the only one that is publishable is Bruce Miroff's story of the Charleston, SC project.  Check it out for a model of how to write the story of your own county.  Some of you have written first drafts but not final drafts.  Some have only promised.  Get them in.  Jo Freeman is acting as book editor.  Send them to her at (one of her many e-mail addresses).

The Penn Center
A few days before President Obama left office, he established in Beaufort County, South Carolina, the country's first national monument to the Reconstruction era.  The monument designation covers historic sites around St. Helena Island, including the Penn Center, which has a long history of supporting the black community, first as the South's first educational institution for former slaves and then during the Civil Rights Movement as a place where SCLC conducted training and planned for new campaigns and where Dr. King often went to write. 
Also included is the Brick Baptist Church, adjacent to the Penn Center, which was built in 1855 by slaves who were relegated to its balcony out of the sight and presence of white worshipers.  After the Civil War Battle of Port Royal in 1861, slaves assumed control over the church. 
Downtown Beaufort will be featured in the recognition since Reconstruction had some of its earliest and most significant impacts in Beaufort County, South Carolina.  Also recognized is the Camp Saxton Site in Port Royal where on January 1, 1863, Union General Rufus Saxton assembled 3,000 slaves from the surrounding Sea Islands to read the Emancipation Proclamation.  It was the first reading in the South.
At the same time, President Obama established monuments to the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama, and to the 1960s Freedom Riders in Anniston, Alabama.  In a statement, President Obama said, "I am designating new national monuments that preserve critical chapters of our country's history, from the Civil War to the civil rights movement.  These stories are part of our shared history."
The President's Proclamation also contains the fascinating story of Robert Smalls, the most influential African American politician in South Carolina during the Reconstruction Era.  Smalls was born in Beaufort in 1839.  At the age of twelve, he was hired out by his owner to work in Charleston, where he learned to sail, rig, and pilot ships. 
In 1862, Smalls navigated the CSS Planter, a Confederate ship, through Charleston harbor, past the guns of Fort Sumter, and turned it over to Union forces.  This courageous escape made him an instant hero for the Union, and he soon began working as a pilot for the U. S. Navy.  Smalls and his family used prize money awarded for the Planter to purchase the house in Beaufort once owned by the family that had owned him. 
Smalls was elected to the South Carolina General Assembly from 1868 to 1874.  In 1874 Smalls was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, where he served five terms, until South Carolina voters ratified a new constitution that effectively eliminated African Americans from electoral politics and codified racial segregation in law for decades to come.

Albert Turner
The nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General has brought back into focus the treatment of Albert Turner and his wife Evelyn in 1985.  Albert Turner worked as Field Secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  In later years he was a leader in Perry County.  Turner helped to organize the Selma to Montgomery march and was a participant on Bloody Sunday.  Albert Turner and his wife were true freedom fighters during that period.        Mrs. Turner is still fighting today.
Albert and Evelyn Turner and other leaders of neighboring counties in Alabama were indicted by the Department of Justice in 1985, charging them with various types of voter fraud, mostly having to do with marking absentee ballots. 
In a piece written by Jo Freeman:  "The Justice Department spent a lot of taxpayer money trying to convict eight blacks for doing 'normal' politics when done by whites.  U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions was the one who tried Albert Turner, his wife, and one other worker in federal court.  Fortunately, a lot had changed in 20 years.  For one thing, juries were no longer composed strictly of white men.  The judge threw out most of the charges and a jury of seven blacks and five whites acquitted the three on all charges.  They too saw 'normal politics' in what the three were charged with."
In addition to the confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General, Jo warns that particular attention should be paid to whom Sessions chooses to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice; this position also has to be confirmed by the Senate.

Donations to SCOPE 50
In the last Newsletter we mentioned that SCOPE50 will accept any donations that people wish to make, no matter how small.  And since we are a 501(c)3, non-profit organization, donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  To make it even easier, we are now set up for donations to be made on our website,   There is a "donate" button on the top right of the page, and donations will go directly into the SCOPE50 bank account.

SCOPE50 is in need of someone to help search for and write grants as we go forward during the year.  So far John Reynolds has been doing this on SCOPE50's behalf.  We now have a Grant Management tool to help us to put together proposals.  If someone is willing to work on this, they can use this tool as well.  Please e-mail John ( if you are interested in helping with this.

West Hunter Street Baptist Church
Founded in 1881 as Mount Calvary Baptist Church, the congregation moved in 1906 to a Gothic Revival stone sanctuary on West Hunter Street in Atlanta, Georgia. 
Throughout the modern civil rights movement, the church served as a headquarters for many civil rights workers and organizations.  The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy served as pastor of the church from 1961 until his death in 1990.   While pastoring West Hunter, Dr. Abernathy continued his work as a civil rights activist. 
Subsequent to Dr. King's passing in 1968, Dr. Abernathy took over as President of SCLC and carried forth national initiatives such as Operation Breadbasket and the Poor People's Campaign.  Through-out his life, Dr. Abernathy organized economic justice and labor initiatives as well as served as a peace negotiator during times of national social conflict, such as the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee.
Following the congregation's relocation in 1973, the building continued to be used as a site for community development and civil rights programs.  Hosea Williams used the site as the home office for his Feed the Hungry Program during the late 1970s.  Today the site is owned and maintained by the Ralph D. Abernathy III, Inc., a non-profit developed to preserve the cultural history of the site and surrounding community, and the legacy of Rev. Abernathy.
Congress has passed a law, directing the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a Special Resource Study to determine whether West Hunter Street Baptist Church meets the criteria for inclusion in the national park system and to make recommendations to the Secretary of Interior, which would then forward the recommendation to Congress.  The criteria includes the significance of the site, its suitability, feasibility, and need for NPS management.
As part of the study, the NPS hosted two public information meetings (on February 2 and February 9) to provide the public an opportunity to learn about the study process, ask questions, speak with national park staff, and share information for the study.  Anyone wishing to submit comments or get further information should go to or email  If people are interested in doing an oral history with the National Park Service about West Hunter Street Baptist Church and/or SCOPE, please contact John Reynolds (   He is in contact with the National Park Service about this.  The oral histories can be done over the phone.

SCOPE50 Facebook page
SCOPE50 logo.jpegWe announced in the December Newsletter that a SCOPE50 Facebook page had been created.  We encourage you to look for the SCOPE50 page, "like" it, and request to be a Friend.  As we mentioned, you should be careful not to confuse our page with that of the SCOPE Project page, which has no connection to our organization.

The South is Back!   by Jo Freeman
President Trump may be from New York, but if you look at the power positions in the federal government, it's clear that the South is back in the saddle.  Recently the Brookings Institution published a chart showing the percentage of House Committees chaired by southerners since 1956.  It is almost back to where it was when we were working in the South, after being down for decades.  During the civil rights movement over fifty percent of Congressional standing committees were chaired by Southerners. (a bit fewer in the Senate than in the House).  In 1965 (89th Congress) fully two-thirds of the standing committees were chaired by Southerners.  In the last Congress (i.e. through 2016) it was exactly 50 percent in House and 37.5 percent in the Senate.  It will be close to that in the new Congress, though a few Committee chairs remain to be decided. 
What's particularly striking is that over a third of the House chairmen come from Texas!! 
(See chart on page 6)
Over a hundred years ago, the Southern states used disfranchisement to achieve control of Congress.  Keeping the vote small made it easier to be repeatedly re-elected.  Regular re-election increased seniority.  Seniority increased power.  Southern Members of Congress (MCs) used their committee power to keep bills they did not like bottled up so they could never come to a vote.  Domestics and farmworkers were left out of Social Security and Unemployment Insurance to appease Southerners, whose strength on the committees could have kept those bills from becoming laws.  Anything affecting civil rights was particularly subject to delay and demise.  James O. Eastland, the Senator from Mississippi from 1943 to 1978, was chair of the Judiciary Committee from 1956 to 1978.  All appointments to federal judgeships went through his committee. The Department of Justice was subject to its oversight.  He chaired its Subcommittee on Internal Security, which combed the civil rights movement looking for Communists.  Anyone who thinks the feds didn't do enough to support the civil rights movement should keep in mind that Sen. Eastland (among others) was always lurking in the background, carrying a very large stick.
 As the cry is raised about "voter fraud" in the 21th Century, remember that this was one of the rationales for restricting the vote in the 19th Century.  It worked.  The percentage of the voting age population who actually voted in the South reached its nadir in 1924 at only 18.8 percent-- one-third the percentage of the rest of the country.  South Carolina had the lowest voting rate that year at 6.4 percent.  While turn-out rose after the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, it never caught up with the rest of the country.

With the last election, the South is back, only now the Committee chairs are Republicans rather than Democrats.  They are also all white.  In 1965, two Committee chairs were black (from NY and IL).  Seniority no longer opens the doors it did in the 1960s, but it still confers benefits.  Southern Republicans have replaced Southern Democrats as the power brokers in the House and the Senate.  Even the new Cabinet is trending Southern.  Over a third (depending on how you count) of the proposed new Cabinet members spent a major portion of their lives in a Southern state, either as children or adults.  After President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, he said the Democratic Party has "lost the South for a generation."  In 2017, it's been two generations at least; going on three.  Both parties have changed in the last 50 years; not always for the best.  But Southern power in the federal government has returned.
Vital Stats
This is part of an annual collection and publication of data by the Brookings Institution of Vital Statistics on Congress.  Southern states are defined as the 11 Confederate states, not the 15 former slave states or the 17 legal segregation states.


SCOPE50 Newsletter - May 2017

             SCOPE50 News                     
The Fight is Not Over!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              May 2017
Ending Childhood Poverty:
In 1968 Dr. King conceived of a campaign to end poverty and hunger in this country.  This resulted in the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C.  Unfortunately, poverty and hunger is still a major issue, and that is particularly true for children.  According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Annual 2016 Hunger and Homelessness Report, which compiled results from 39 cities of different sizes:  "Of those seeking emergency help with food nationally, 63% were in families, and 51% were employed."  This will be one of the issues that the SCOPE50 Board will consider when it meets this June in Charleston, South Carolina, for its annual Board meeting. 
In South Carolina we have been working on this issue by providing healthier snacks to children in schools  and providing meals to low-income families.  (see photos below)

Voting Rights
We are asking for your help.   Could you check with election authorities in your state as to the rules concerning people being deputized to conduct voter registration.  This information will be helpful to the Board as we move forward and strategize on how we will proceed. 

Opportunities to Protect Voting Rights
The Voting Rights Institute has passed along some urgent volunteer opportunities that need support.  They are encouraging people to get involved, as this work is key to protecting the right to vote!  (1) In Nevada there are two pending bills (AB272 and SB94) to expand early voting and make voting more accessible, and a resolution that would make Nevada the 19th state to call for

an amendment to overturn Citizens United (SJR 4).  The bills and resolution will pass easily through the legislature, but the bills face a potential veto from the Governor who already vetoed Automatic Voter Registration this year.  We need to put pressure on the Governor there and are developing a strategy.  Contact Jonah Minkoff-Zern at if you can help and he will connect you with folks on the ground.
(2) Early voting, automatic voter registration, and closing the LLC loophole in New York:  As the New York budget is finalized, we are sad to see that none of these three democracy priorities has been included.  Governor Cuomo promised to work to push these forward as legislative priorities this year, so the struggle continues.  Contact Susan Lerner at to get involved.
SCOPE E-book
We still need chapters for the ebook on SCOPE.  Until we have enough chapters for a book, we will post them to  So far, the only one that is publishable is Bruce Miroff's story of the Charleston, SC project.  Check it out for a model of how to write the story of your own county.  Some of you have written first drafts but not final drafts.  Some have only promised.  Get them in.  Jo Freeman is the book editor.  Jo is a professional editor and the author of seven books.  Send your drafts to her at (one of her many e-mail addresses).
SCOPE Memorabilia
We have begun the process of collecting SCOPE memorabilia from the summer of 1965.  The material gathered will eventually be sent to Jo Freeman who will arrange for it to be archived at the Library of Congress.   We are looking for documents, photos, letters, newspaper clippings, etc.  Elaine Joselovitz has been coordinating this process for the SCOPE workers in the Macon/ Americus area.  We are now looking for volunteers to coordinate the collection of material from all SCOPE workers.  Contact John Reynolds ( if  you are willing to do this for the area you worked in 1965.  To quote Elaine:  "Do not underestimate how important it is to keep a record of what was done that summer."  In the next Newsletter, we will provide more specific information on what we would like to receive from all of you.

Donations to SCOPE 50
In the last Newsletter we mentioned that SCOPE50 will accept any donations that people wish to make, no matter how small.  And since we are a 501(c)3, non-profit organization, donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  To make it even easier, we are now set up for donations to be made on our website,   There is a "donate" button on the top right of the page, and donations will go directly into the SCOPE50 bank account.
SCOPE50 is in need of someone to help search for and write grants as we go forward during the year.  So far John Reynolds has been doing this on SCOPE50's behalf.  We now have a Grant Management tool to help us put together proposals.  Please e-mail John ( if you would be willing to help with this.
SCOPE50 Office
SCOPE50 now has an office which will make our work easier.  This office space has been donated.

SCOPE50 Newsletter - July 2017

             SCOPE50 News                     
The Struggle Continues!                                                                                                                                                                                                      July 2017

SCOPE50 Annual Board Meeting:
The SCOPE50 Annual Board meeting was held on Seabrook Island, South Carolina, June 21-24. (Highlights of the minutes were distributed to the e-list on July 20.)  One of the decisions made by the Board was that we will hold our next Annual Meeting at the same place in May 2018; however, the Board will have phone conferences throughout the year.   On June 22 we held a mass meeting on Johns Island where members of the Board spoke to the community at large.  The Board felt that this was a successful meeting, and most of the reaction we have received since was positive as well.  The mass meeting was streamed live on the SCOPE50 Facebook page, and nearly 300 people watched the meeting.  Also, a front-page article appeared in the  July 21 issue of the local islands newspaper, The Island Connection.  Below is a photo of Board members Lanny Kaufer, Richard Smiley, Jo Freeman, Mary Whyte and John Reynolds, which was taken at the mass meeting.
During the week, a number of the Board members toured a number of the significant sites in Charleston, including some of the tourist attractions.  But we also visited Mother Emanuel AME Church, which that week was commemorating the second anniversary of the massacre of nine church members who were attending Bible study on June 17, 2015.  Jo Freeman and I attended the Sunday church service at Mother Emanuel on June 25.

Operation Breadbasket: An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966–1971
Cathy Deppe, who worked on the SCOPE project in Greene County with Thomas Gilmore, as well as the Christmas project in Birmingham, has forwarded information about a book that her brother, Martin Deppe, recently wrote about Operation Breadbasket.  Begun by Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement, Operation Breadbasket was directed by Jesse Jackson.  Rev. Martin Deppe was one of Breadbasket's founding pastors.  "Under the motto, 'Your Ministers Fight for Jobs and Rights,' the program put bread on the tables of the city's African-American families in the form of steady jobs."
According to a description of the book on Amazon, Rev. Deppe "traces Breadbasket's history from its early "Don't Buy" campaigns through a string of achievements related to black employment and black-owned products, services, and businesses. To the emerging call for black power, Bread­basket offered a program that actually empowered the black community, helping it engage the mainstream economic powers on an equal footing.  Deppe recounts plans for Breadbasket's national expansion; its sponsored business expos; and the Saturday Breadbasket gatherings, a hugely popular black-pride forum.  Deppe shows how the program evolved in response to growing pains, changing alliances, and the King assassination.  Breadbasket's rich history, as told here, offers a still-viable model for attaining economic justice today."
Cathy Deppe has shared some of her brother's recent experiences talking about the book.      After speaking at the Human Rights and Social Justice Institute, he met Rev Al Sharpton who informed him that he had read the book and his whole staff was now reading it.  Rev. Deppe   was among a group that Jackson honored at the event, including C. T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fr. Mike Pfleger, and Jeremiah Wright.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity 
We need to keep our eyes on the Trump Voter Commission.  What are they trying to do with the voting process?  This commission was primarily set up because Trump claimed that millions illegally voted in the 2016 election.  The Commission has been trying to obtain voter information from states, but many states have resisted this effort.  The voting process is important to this country.  We may once again be called upon to bear witness to disenfranchised voters.  We can't allow this administration to move us back sixty or so years.  SCOPE50 will partner with organizations such as the National Conference of Black Legislators to see how this commission is impacting various communities, particularly the black vote.
Charleston Workers Renew Region's Ties to the Highlander Center
    – Excerpts from a Portside article by Kerry Taylor, July 19, 2017
Seventy years ago, a group of cigar factory workers from Charleston, South Carolina, traveled almost 500 miles to the Highlander Folk School, a leadership training school founded in East Tennessee in 1932.  There, the workers introduced the school's musical director to a gospel song that had boosted their spirits during a protracted strike the previous year.  Highlander staff taught the song to thousands of labor and civil rights movement activists over the years and, as its popularity spread, "We Shall Overcome" became an anthem for human rights causes worldwide.
In the footsteps of the tobacco workers, three Charleston food and hospitality industry workers attended an education and organizing workshop at Highlander earlier this month sponsored by Raise Up for $15, the Southern expression of the national "Fight for $15," the SEIU-backed movement for a livable wage and union rights for low-wage workers.
In the years between the tobacco workers' visit and this month's workshop, hundreds more Charleston-area workers and activists have made the trek to Highlander.  None made more of an impact on Highlander (and U. S. history) than Septima P. Clark, a Charleston teacher.  Highlander cofounder Myles Horton was so impressed by the literacy and citizenship education work being done by Clark and her associates on the Sea Islands near Charleston that he soon invited her to join the staff.  In 1961 the Citizenship School they developed was adopted by King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as its educational and leadership development program. 
Bill Saunders of Johns Island, South Carolina, still remembers witnessing Clark's 1959 arrest at Highlander on trumped up charges that she had violated state liquor laws.  Saunders fumed in anger and frustration as he watched police brutalize Clark and take her away.  The bitterness has remained with Saunders, who is now 82.
Shortly after Clark's arrest, Highlander, located at the time in Monteagle, was closed by the state of Tennessee.  The closure culminated a long campaign of harassment and intimidation directed at the school and its leaders.  It reopened as the Highlander Research and Education Center on farmland in New Market, Tennessee, its location since 1961.
A new Poor People's Campaign
A portion of the above Portside article made reference to a new Poor People's Campaign.  Organizers are planning a series of protests spotlighting poverty and economic disparities coinciding with the 50-year anniversary of the campaign spearheaded by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the final months of his life.  This group does not appear to be affiliated with SCLC.  You may wish to check out their website:  

SCOPE50 Newsletter - October 2017

             SCOPE50 News                     
The Struggle Continues!                                                                                                                                                                                                      October 2017
John Doar History Trail
New Richmond, Wisconsin, opened its new John Doar History Trail with celebratory events and informational panel displays on August 24-26.  The celebration featured two unique panel discussions – on the Civil Rights Era and the impeachment inquiry into President Richard Nixon – with panelists (including Bob Moses) who experienced the events firsthand.  The History Trail winds through New Richmond and includes six panels providing Doar's history.  At his death at age 92 in 2014, The New York Times described John Doar as "a country lawyer from northern Wisconsin who led the federal government's on-the-ground efforts to dismantle segregation in the South."
Doer's accomplishments include:
      Helping James Meredith become the first African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi.  Doer escorted Meredith to the admissions office in 1962.
   Defusing a potentially deadly riot in Mississippi in 1963 following the funeral of civil rights activist Medgar Evers who was murdered by an American white supremacist.
   Serving as a chief prosecutor in 1967 in a federal case against Klan/police conspirators in the killings of three voting rights workers in the famed "Mississippi Burning" trial.
   Acting as special counsel in 1974 to the U. S. House Judiciary Committee's investigation of President Richard Nixon for the Watergate Scandal, which eventually led to Nixon's impeachment and resignation.
President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Doar in 2012.  Obama, when presenting the medal to Doar, recalled the events of the 1960s:  "John escorted James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.  He walked alongside the Selma-to-Montgomery March.  He laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  I think it's fair to say that I might not be here had it not been for his work."

Remembering Dick Gregory:
Dick Gregory, who died on August 19 at the age of 84, was one of the first black comedians to find mainstream success with white audiences in the early 1960s. He rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to become a celebrated satirist who deftly commented upon racial divisions at the dawn of the civil rights movement and helped bring national attention to fledgling efforts at integration and social equality for blacks.

Dick Gregory was one of the earliest celebrities to support the Civil Rights Movement.  He was in Montgomery in 1965 to support SCLC and the Selma to Montgomery March.  He continued to support SCLC when Dr. King went to Chicago in 1966.  Dick Gregory was by his side and shared his home in Chicago with some of us who were in Chicago with Dr. King.  He served on the SCLC Board of Directors until 2016. Gregory went on to tackle many issues in the country, including the Vietnam War and prison reform.  Not only did Gregory give voice to these issues but he was willing to make sacrifices on behalf of what he believed in.  Essentially he gave up his career, and his fasting around a number of issues affected his health.   After his death of a severe bacterial infection, his son Christian Gregory stated that "Years of severe fasting, not for health but for social change, had damaged his vasculature system long ago.  He always reminded us, many of his fasts were not about his personal health but an attempt to heal the world."
When Dick Gregory died, we lost a Civil Rights giant. 

Hosea Williams Mural
On September 21 a mural was dedicated in honor of Hosea Williams in Atlanta.  Created by visual artist Fabian Williams, the fluorescent, glow-in-the-dark mural is installed at Studioplex on Airline Street in the Old Fourth Ward between Auburn and Dekalb streets. The towering mural depicts Williams in his trademark overalls (his "freedom suit") with his arms outstretched.
Barbara Williams Emerson, Hosea's daughter (and a member of our SCOPE50 Board of Directors) stated: "Fabian Williams and Studioplex have done a tremendous service for the City of Atlanta by creating this very contemporary image.  The mural delivers Hosea Williams and potentially his body of work to a generation of Atlantans who missed out on his leadership and don't know his story of perseverance or his aggressive approach to activism, social responsibility, and politics. Now, this dynamic mural challenges them to learn and act. Who knows? It might spark a new group of Hosea followers. All they have to do is Google him or study his papers at the Auburn Avenue Research Library or join the work at Hosea Helps, the organization he started nearly 50 years ago. But first, he has to get on their radar. This mural does exactly that. Hosea Williams is back!"

Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue
The other event that took place in Atlanta was the unveiling of a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the grounds of the Georgia Capitol.  The statue stands at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.  It was purposely placed at that location so that it faces the King Center, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the Auburn area, where Dr. King was born, preached and marched.  The statue paying tribute to Dr. King made its public debut on August 28, the anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech.  
MLK statue Atlanta.jpg
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said, "This tribute is important and a lasting statement about the value of inclusion, the strength of our diversity and the power of grace and how it changes hearts.  This statue comes at a time when there are many conversations about historical monuments going on nationally and within the state.  When the time comes, I'm confident in the city of Atlanta that we will walk it together as we have again, again and again."  Other statues on the Capitol grounds include Confederate General John B. Gordon and segregationists Senator Richard Russell and Governor Eugene Talmadge.  The sculpture's installation comes more than three years after Georgia lawmakers endorsed the project.  Bringing the statue into reality took multiple struggles.  Officials had to negotiate with Dr. King's family for the right to use his image.  Then the artist selected for the project was killed in a motorcycle accident.  After a lengthy screening, sculptor Martin Dawe was chosen to replace him.  Dawe said he knew other tributes to King had been criticized and he set one goal:  Make the statue look like the man.

Victory in Texas
In August a federal court in Texas permanently blocked the state's latest version of its discriminatory voter photo ID law, SB 5.  This law was designed to suppress the vote of black and Latino Texas voters.  The law allowed some forms of photo ID like gun permits to be used to vote, but not many other photo IDs disproportionately held by minorities, like public university IDs and state or federal employment IDs.  The Campaign Legal Center, which represented Texas voters in challenging these discriminatory voter photo ID laws, said that while they are grateful that the court once again agreed that the Texas photo ID law was written in order to discriminate, they also know that this will not be the last fight to secure voting rights for all American citizens.

Presentation by Lanny Kaufer: "My Summer Working for Martin Luther King Jr.
On October 15, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Ojai, California, hosted Lanny Kaufer and guitarist Roger House for the multimedia presentation "My Summer Working for Martin Luther King Jr." and a celebration of National Multicultural Diversity Day.  Lanny's presentation centered around a slideshow of approximately 200 slides, many of which have music embedded to represent the "soundtrack" of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's.
Lanny's presentation.jpg
The Church announcement states, "Lanny also sings, raps, and plays guitar and harmonica to add more musical flavor to the program as he shares his personal accounts including working for Dr. King's SCOPE Project in Virginia in 1965 and witnessing the incredible courage of the African-American people of the South who stood up for their rights, at great personal risk, after 300 years of oppression.  The presentation will include the history of Jonathan Daniels, an Episcopal seminarian and civil rights activist who was murdered in August of 1965 while protecting the life of 17 year old Ruby Sales.  In 1991 Daniels was designated as a martyr in the Episcopal Church, and is recognized annually in its calendar."

SCOPE50 Membership Application - Reminder
On August 16 we sent you an e-mail concerning the SCOPE50 Board decision to create membership categories; a copy of the membership application was attached to the e-mail.  If you have not yet sent your membership application to me (John Reynolds), please don't forget to do so.  Sending in the membership form is a first step in preserving our history.
If you have questions or need me to send you another copy of the form, please e-mail me at

Thursday, March 15, 2018

SCOPE50 March 2018 Newsletter

             SCOPE50 News                     
The Struggle Continues!                                                                                                                                                                                                      March 2018
Honoring John Lewis
For John Lewis and everyone he has touched in his time as a leader of the Civil Rights movement and as a member of Congress, February 3, 2018, was a very special day.  City and state officials gathered with Lewis and the community in Troy, Alabama, to honor the historic Pike County native. 
Mayor Jason Reeves officially proclaimed Saturday, February 3, as John Lewis Day and presented Lewis with a key to the city and unveiled a portrait of Lewis painted by artist Ronald McDowell, who sculpted the Rosa Parks statue at Alabama State University and has been commissioned to sculpt the Martin Luther King Jr. statue at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.  Mayor Reeves also unveiled a historic marker detailing Lewis' legacy, which he said will be placed downtown and will be part of a program that all kindergarten students will participate in.
Lewis said that being honored in his hometown was particularly special to him.  "I am so honored and deeply moved," Lewis said. "I saw the (John Lewis Day banner) when I drove up and started crying and I've been crying ever since." "You must never ever give up, you must never ever give up hope," Lewis said. "If it were not for God Almighty and the wonderful people around me, I would not be here today… As long as there is breath in my body, I must try to do something to help others."
Rep. Terri Sewell, the first black woman elected to represent Alabama in Congress, said that Lewis is the reason she could get to the place she is today.  "I grew up in Selma and year after year I would see that pilgrimage reenacting the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge," Sewell said. "As a little girl, I could only dream of one day leaving Selma; when I saw him, I knew anything was possible."  Sewell presented the congressman with a plaque with a picture of herself and Lewis on that historic bridge with a personal note thanking Lewis for his example and his mentorship.
Remembering Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker (Excerpts from The New York Times)
The Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, who was chief of staff to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a key strategist behind civil rights protests, died on January 23 in Chester, Virginia. Dr. Walker preached against intolerance and racial inequality for six decades from pulpits across the South, in New York City and in five of the world's seven continents. He helped supervise South Africa's first fully representative elections in 1994, when Nelson Mandela's rise to power ushered in the end of the apartheid regime.
But much of his impact was felt closer to home. For 37 years he was a towering community figure as the pastor at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, and from 1965 to 1975 he was a special assistant on urban affairs to Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York. In both posts he was a strong advocate of affordable housing and better schools in the low-income neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan.
Dr. Walker's work as a civil rights advocate began in 1953, soon after he finished his graduate studies at the historically black Virginia Union University in Richmond. He had met Dr. King while both were students.  Dr. Walker joined the fledgling Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1961 and served until 1964 as its executive director and, unofficially, as              Dr. King's right-hand man. At SCLC, he devised a structured fund-raising strategy and organized numerous protests, including a series of anti-segregation boycotts and demonstrations in Birmingham, Ala., that came to be known as Project C.  The C stood for "confrontation," and the project is regarded as the blueprint for the civil rights movement's success in the South.
In an interview, Dr. Walker said, "I was fully committed to nonviolence, and I believe with all my heart that for the civil rights movement to prove itself, its nonviolent actions had to work in Birmingham.  If it wasn't for Birmingham, there wouldn't have been a Selma march, there wouldn't have been a 1965 civil rights bill. Birmingham was the birthplace and affirmation of the nonviolent movement in America."
Dr. Walker helped circulate "Letter from Birmingham Jail," one of the most important documents of the civil rights movement, in which Dr. King argued for civil disobedience as a legitimate response to racial segregation. He also helped organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which culminated with Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Scholars and activists alike say his management skills were crucial in turning SCLC from a largely volunteer organization into a national power in the civil rights movement, with a million-dollar budget and 100 full-time workers.
SCOPE50 Fundraiser
The SCOPE50 fundraiser held on Seabrook Island, South Carolina, on February 23 was very successful.  (Check out the photos on our website and Facebook page!)

Motown Poster.jpeg

The goal was to sell 200 tickets.  That number was reached a week before the event and so online reservations had to be shut down.  SCOPE50 Board member Mary Whyte and President John Reynolds had worked tirelessly for several months planning this event, along with a small group including Roni Berttucci, Heidi Lantin, Amy Myers, Barbara Burgess and Gloria Reynolds.  Music was provided by the Visions Band.  We have had wonderful feedback from those who attended the event.  We were pleased that Lynn Goldsmith Goldberg and her husband Larry were able to attend.  Lynn was a Brandeis student in 1965 who volunteered for the SCOPE project and was assigned to St. Matthews, South Carolina.  Lynn was accompanied to the fundraiser by Melvin Hart, a member of the family that hosted Lynn during the SCOPE project, and other members of the St. Matthews community.  Lynn graciously donated one of her baskets ( for the fundraising silent auction.
Hope's Kids
Alan Venable, another Brandeis student who volunteered for the SCOPE project and was assigned to South Carolina, published a book (Hope's Kids) a few months ago about his experiences that summer in 1965.  The paperback can be purchased on 
March for Our Lives
SCOPE50 supports the March for Our Lives event organized by the students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and young people across the country.      On Saturday, March 24, young people and their families will march in Washington, DC and in cities throughout the country to demand an end to gun violence and mass shootings in our schools.  We urge SCOPE50 members to support these young people and provide whatever assistance they may need from us.
The Promotion of Nonviolence
One of the missions that the SCOPE50 Board adopted at its annual meeting last June was to promote nonviolence as articulated by Dr. King.  At the fundraiser on February 23, John Reynolds called for a promotion of non-violence in communities around the country on April 4, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  He asked those in attendance to listen to the words and read the teachings of Dr. King and then share this with their friends and neighbors.  He also suggested that people light a candle or stop for a few minutes wherever they are at about the time that Dr. King was killed (6:01 p.m. CST) on April 4, 1968, and reflect on his teachings. 
Voter Registration
SCOPE came into being when Dr. King sent out a message for folks to come South in 1965 to help register black people to vote.  That is still our mission, as well as telling the story of the efforts and sacrifice that went into the SCOPE voter registration project.  There is still a need to protect our voting rights and encourage people to register and vote.  One of the immediate things that SCOPE50 members should be aware of is the filing deadline for people who decide to run for office in 2018.  For example, in South Carolina the filing period opens on Friday, March 16, for a two-week period, but filing deadlines are different across the country.  Another concern is the states that have ID requirements, such as South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, just to name a few.  In South Carolina, we are partnering with the League of Women Voters and the Sea Islands Action Network, as well as churches and high schools, to help people get the proper ID's.  People can get in touch with their local Board of Elections for help in getting students registered to vote.  In most states, students who are 17 can register.  We encourage you to get involved in these efforts in your communities. 
Jo Freeman reports that one of the national groups that has prioritized voting and running for office is Women's March, with its Power to the Polls campaign .  They met in January in Las Vegas to launch Power to the Polls ( ), one year after the historic Women's March on Washington.  Their hope is to channel the energy and activism of the Women's March into tangible strategies to create change in 2018.