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Letter to Mother and Father from Ellen

Gulfport, August 12

Dear Mother and Father:

I have learned more about politics here from running my own precinct meetings that I could have from any Government professor… For the first time in my life, I am seeing what it is like to be poor, oppressed, and hated. And what I see here does not apply only to Gulfport or to Mississippi or even to the South … The people we’re killing in Viet Nam are the same people whom we’ve been killing for years in Mississippi. True, we didn’t tie the knot in Mississippi and we didn’t pull the trigger in Viet Nam – that is, we personally – but we’ve been standing behind the knot-tiers and the trigger-pullers too long.

This summer is only the briefest beginning of this experience, both for myself and for the Negroes of Mississippi.

Your daughter,


Elizabeth Martínez, ed. Letters from Mississippi. (Brookline, MA: Zephyr Press, 2002), 269.

Other license (see note)
Date / time
August 12, 1964
Martinez, Elizabeth Sutherland
Zephyr Press
Letters from Mississippi
Date published

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Letter to Mother and Father from Ellen." (Viewed on January 17, 2018) <>.


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