Lynn Goldsmith papers:
The Diary and Papers of a Young Civil Rights Worker
Tuesday, August 2nd
Jailhouse Notes from the “Pink Palace -- Orangeburg City Jail
Why were we arrested--no charge. We were pulled from the courthouse.
Yesterday Orangeburg had a record registration day--so did we!--they registered 350 people and had three registrars (even a fourth). They were allowed to use the courtroom--so everyone could sit down. It was cool, quick, and comfortable.
Today was another registration day. Mary Ann and Alan went down to help since we didn’t have extra days. At three the rest of us got a call--come down by four. There had been only two registrars, and one left because he didn’t want to register any more ‘niggars’. People were being asked to read. Those bastards!! No--we won’t put up with it. At five we would stay. Calhoun was asked to support the sit-in--of course we would.
We talked to the people, telling them to stay. We sang songs and marched around the courtroom when the officials left. We opened the windows and let the city hear us. There were posters with slogans--they went up on the windows. All the adults left except three because they couldn’t be arrested. Our decision meeting was short we would stay 'til 9:00 tomorrow, or be arrested. The arrest was our own decision, Earl was there and told us everything.
Sheriff Dukes came in. Suddenly, on both sides of the room husky men in uniform poured in. they stood on each side as we announced our decision. They rushed on us as we sat and sang, jumping over the seats. We were 53, they must have been more.
I was picked up and thrown. Then I was grabbed and dragged outside. As I passed Earl he encouraged me to try to walk. In front of me John and Al were dragged by the hands down the stairs and thrown into the car in a heap. My picture was taken. Al’s hands were bent ‘til they almost broke. Dozens of cars pulled up to the courthouse, with all of us singing. We were piled, pushed and thrown into the jail. Then we were split, and some of us were led around another way. We stood and sang songs while we waited for them to get our names. Fifteen girls are together in a revolting dirty cell with three beds. There is a toilet in the room that is disgusting. Also a sink and bathtub. We were finger printed and photographed. Juveniles were led out if they wanted. Butch was arrested with us.
August 12th [At a three day SCLC Convention in Birmingham, AL]
…….Reverend Martin Luther King gave the annual President’s Address. This is the 9th annual convention, and it is significant that it was the 10th anniversary of the Montgomery boycott. King spoke of all the present programs being carried out by SCLC--SCOPE, political education (citizenship schools + writing clinics), Operation Breadbasket (economic boycotts), Dialogue (to awaken the people and get them talking and thinking) and Vision (to prepare kids for college).
The word has changed--now it is “march”. March and demonstrate until more registration days are granted. It was stated that we must really struggle, and not relent until we have won. At the end of the speech the audience was asked to stand in support for what King had said, and in an endorsement of his policy.
1 white man then got up and belted out a beautiful song; “I told Jesus it would be all right if he changed my name”. Afterwards King introduced Rev. Andy Young for the keynote address. Andy is a very good speaker. He seems to talk to every person individually. He touched on many things. The convention was very concerned about the situation in Viet Nam. As Andy put it, “There is no sense in integrating a society that is in danger of being blown out from under us.” This whole situation can be alleviated by an enlightened electorate.
Andy brought up the new sense of the movement as SCLC now sees it. We need more than non-violence as the blatent wrongs of the segregationists subside. Our own shortcomings will be visible and we must search more for the truth….
August 18th [St. Matthews]
Thais drove me over to Sultan’s in Regi’s car to get the station wagon. I drove back to the SCOPE house to pick up Jim (less finky than John). Just as we were driving out Earl drove in with Mary Ann. So we waited for her to have dinner. I called up St. Matthews to tell them we would be about another ¾ hour. Then--Shocking news!!!!!
Some time between 8:00 and 9:00, when no on was home--our house had been shot at with a shotgun. Ulp! I was suddenly nervous. I ran back to the other SCOPE house and told Earl. He did not believe it had been a shotgun. However he hurried and offered to accompany us home. Three cars went to St. Matthews, filled with people.
What a sight! A hole about a foot in diameter was in the front picture window. The whole glass was cracked in all directions. The shade was drawn, and splattered with shot holes. But that was nothing--the inside was utterly unbelievable. Shattered glass was strewn over every inch of the room. Not a place was left uncovered. The back wall was dotted with holes. The whole place was a shambles. Everyone stood around--amazed.
The police had been by and looked things over. They said they would return with the sheriff in the morning. F.B.I. was contacted, and also U.P.I. We called Chief Strom for protection during the night. Matthew Perry was also informed of everything. It was still scary. Earl and the Orangeburg kids left us making precautions for night. Our beds were moved and windows blocked. Pleasant dreams!
My last day, and a hard one! I got up at 9:00--oh exhaustion!!
I didn’t realize how upset Gerard was. He was already waiting downstairs for me; puffing away cigarettes. I couldn’t really talk to him at all. We sat outside with some of the other kids while I waited for all the last minute things to be taken care of--phone calls, breakfast, packing. Gerard and I really grossed out a local Uncle Tom who stopped by to say hello.--we were standing on the steps with our arms around each other. The man left quickly.
Citty was packed, and we said good bye to everyone. When we got to St. Matthews, everybody was cleaning up the house. What a chore! We certainly hadn’t taken any pains to keep the place neat! It seemed like a hopeless task, but we did make some headway. The car, when we got around to loading it, was quite burdened with five people’s luggage and other various belongings. It was a real rush to get finished in time for our last luncheon invitation. We did it though.
Lunch was at the Flood’s house, and very wild. Saturday is a big day, and every person is extremely high and in good spirits (excuse pun). The house was jammed with friends and relatives. The music was blaring so we could hardly speak. People pranced around, slapping each other and talking too loudly, like you do when you’ve had too much to drink.
We were seated in the living room and offered beers. Dinner was late --but not surprising!--a spread to beat all meals we had had all summer. The team of women had gone all out to provide the most sumptuous meal ever prepared. Chicken, turkey, pig pieces, rice, noodles, beans, and endless other things. All we could do was taste some of the things. It was difficult to leave, because the people kept hanging on to us. The men wanted to dance, and the women found lots they had to say.
I was a wreck. One of the things I dislike most in this world is saying good bye. I can’t tolerate it. The only way I can remain sane is to say good bye and leave….
The last push! It was quite a push, too. Being me, I didn’t hear either alarm clock. Lesley got me up, and first I had to fight the freezing cold. That was quite a shock! Then I had to wake the others. That wasn’t very easy.
Mrs. Straley was so nice to get up and make us hot pancakes for breakfast. We struggle very hard, and were off by 6:30, with me driving. It was a long haul, and we were all anxious to get back to the North.
A civil rights trip wouldn’t be complete without a flat tire--and we had one! It was certainly good we had stopped to get a spare which was usable. When we stopped it was COLD! The wind blew, and for the first time all summer we needed sweaters and coats. We continued on our way, stopping only for gas and food.
The first time I felt really out of the South was when we approached Washington--familiar territory--home of friends. I almost felt as though I knew everybody--people even looked different. I still had a feeling of comradeship with the Negroes, but the natural feeling of hostility towards all whites was growing less.
Speaking of everyone’s being a friend, when we stopped in Delaware, we did find friends. It was uncanny to bump into them there. In fact Carol left us there to continue her ride home with a girl from Brandeis.
I was very excited on the drive through New Jersey to good old home in Princeton. I didn’t have to worry about the fact that I was ready to drop from exhaustion--I couldn’t relax.
At last I was home. Now to unwind and think, and to wish I were back again.