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From Interracial Sit-Ins to Interreligious Solidarity: 1961

Grades 6-12


Action Group for Racial Progress published “A Call To Action” in the December 1961 issue of The Catholic Worker, bringing to light the injustices forced on black tenant farmers especially when they became active in the Civil Rights Movement.

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As the civil rights movement extends itself into the rural [North or South], an area still largely unaffected by civil rights gains, it will shift its major concern from desegregation of [social facilities or public spaces] to attack the [social or economic] and political bases of discrimination and [segregation or integration].

The following problems appear the most acute in the [urban or rural] South: 1) the continued existence of an [exploitative or generous] tenant system which is not amenable to the older legalistic means of change; 2) [replacement or displacement] through mechanization, a process which through forced migration threatens to weaken growing [Negro or farmer] voting strength; 3) arbitrary eviction by white landlords as a [reward for or reprisal against] political activity and as a means to diminish potential Negro [political power or economic growth]; 4) the continual use of economic [sanction or segregation] and social control inherent in the [voting or tenant] system which prevents potential Negro political power from being actualized. 

At a special meeting of the Haywood County Civic and Welfare League we suggested: A protest [against eviction or for voting rights], in the form of families refusing to move. 1) This would force these [feudal-like or fair-minded] conditions to the attention of much of the nation and the world. 2) The resulting [evictions or publicity] would pressure the federal government into alleviating the worst conditions of the [tenants or office workers]. (On the basis of it being declared a disaster area, land rent and price controls, real assistance to Negro tenants desiring to buy land, bringing in of government industry, etc.) 3) It would [mobilize or end] support from other sources and would represent a [insignificant or large] step in the broadening of the struggle for equality.

Thus there is an urgent need now for [individuals or unruly gangs] to come to Haywood County to support these people in their protest action. These individuals - will live with the [farm animals or threatened families] prior to and during their eviction to morally encourage them. The publicity resulting from their presence would serve to [decrease or increase] the possibility of violence. If need be, they will go [on vacation or to jail] with the family.