Letter from Hattiesburg
Hattiesburg, July 4
Every time I talk to people, I hear about things which bring tears to my eyes. I have begun, finally, to feel deep inside me this horrible double existence Negroes have to lead in both North and South… the strategies they must learn to survive without either going crazy or being physically maimed – or destroyed. Mr. Reese describes how a Negro must learn to walk through a crowd: weaving, slightly hunched – shuffling helps – in order to be as humbly inconspicuous as possible… Then I hear from men who served in Korea or elsewhere, that they alone had no flag to fight for… I talked with a fellow whose closest buddy [in the Army] had been a white man from Mississippi; when they were homeward bound on the train and they crossed the Mason-Dixon line, the white man left his seat beside the Negro to change seats with another Negro. I could go on and on about all the people I’ve met… Baby, it takes coming down here to grasp all this no matter how many books we’ve read.
Letter from a Freedom Summer participant describing the heartbreaking forms of discrimination he encountered. Author is not identified in the source material.