In This Issue
By Betty Norwood Chaney
Vol. 2, No. 4, 1980, pp. 2
We are as wrought with opinion and reflection in this our first issue of the new year as we may heve been bereft of it last time. In December we did not carry our usual “Soapbox” opinion piece. As publisher Steve Suitts explained at that time, it was “not that we lack opinions,” but rather “there are tiimes when events should be told, analyzed and then left for reflection.” This is not one of those times. This issue is plentiful in both opinion and reflection.
The Law Project states its positions explicitly in “Soapbox”: “The Georgia penitentiary system is a crime. It brutalizes people, gives graduate instruction in crime and is seriously dangerous to your health.” Responding to the possibility that the Georgia General Assembly next session may institute mandatory sentencing, the Project makes its stand clear. Mandatory sentencing is not the answer to crime
In Mississippi an event was analyzed by civil rights activists drawn from all over the country in a converence in Jackson recently. it was a symposium on “Freedom Summer 1964” and it brought many of the volunteers in that summer’s activities 15 year ago back together for an assessment of that historic time. It prompted two Mississippi writers to reflect on the significance of that summer and on the racial progress in Mississippi and the country since that time. Southern Changes runs these two articles as companion pieces this month.
Gordon D. Gibson pastor and community leader, looks at some of the “irony of change” that came about as a result of that summer. Most participants agreed that little had changed in the daily conditions of life for the poor. Still, Gibson feels the facts that a generation was radicalized, a host of movements was inspired and peopled and a political party was changed must be reckoned with when assessing that period.
Jackson State College professor Ivory Phillips uses the small town of Rosedale as a case study in racial progress in Mississippi. He points to some of the paradoxes abounding in the state today and finds that they add a sober perspective to the much lauded claimof racial progress in Mississippi
In Florida a group of community organizations known as the Florida Black Agenda Coalition has come together to try to identify the issues and the programs that will impact upoon the minorities communities in the 1980s. The coalition has adopted a complete agenda of items ranging from local police action to U.S. policy toward Haitian refugees.It plans to publish its agenda and confront candidates on all levels with proposals.
From Virginia we have a report on the Ku Klux Klan activities there. It seems that the Klan got the idea of holding a “recruiting rally” aimed at the military in Virginia Beach. A coalition was formed to counter the Klan’s activities. Phil Wilayto chronicles the evens surroundng an October 5 rally and demonstration. The most important lesson that the coalition learned from its experiences of fighting the Klan in Virginia according to one participant, is that “you can’t rely on the government to stop the Klan.”
Poor Southerners learned recently that they can’t rely on their congressmen to represent their best interests. Our department piece on Southern Politics this month shows that roughly seven out of 10 Representatives from the 11 Southern states voted against a bill to increase present welfare payments. In a similar vein, a report released by the Southern Regional Council in November revealed that depsite 1977 legislation almost 40 percent of poor Southerners do not receive food stamps.
In another department piece good new for the poor finally comes from Atlanta where a community food bank has been set up to distribute salvageable foodstuffs to feed hungry people
All in all the bad news for poor Southerners unfortunately outweighed the good in this issue. But the fact that coalitions continue to form to confront the bad is some good news in itself