Document 57: John Harris, Report from Sunflower County, "Complaints about the Jackson Office," [November 1964], Elaine DeLott Baker Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. 2 pp.

download PDF


   In October 1964, the Jackson office asked project directors in Mississippi to submit reports on their projects. Nine of these reports are included here (Documents 52-60). John Harris was an African-American Alabama native who worked as a SNCC photographer as well as a project director. His report presents common concerns across projects--lack of resources, poor communication with the Jackson office, and personal stress. Post-Freedom Summer, John returned to his native Alabama, where he worked for decades as a labor organizer.

[p. 1]

John Harris, Sunflower County Project
Complaints about the Jackson office

The Jackson office is incompetent.

A. WATS line

The operator doesn't follow the schedule.

Messages don't get relayed.

The office can't answer even elementary questions, e.g. supplies, eye glasses, names for federal programs people to go to Wash, etc.

B. Where is our van of supplies? We asked and no one in Jackson could answer.

C. Funds

Project money is late at times.

There is too much bureaucracy in getting subsistance.

We do not get enough to carry on the project, with fines, gas, wiring and all.

We needed $260 for wiring the F.S., and requested $85 from COFO and never got it or any reply at all.

Monthly budget from Jackson: $150 month What we must spend for Sunflower County:

gas for cars $120
rent for 2 buildings 50
supplies-office and school 30
utilities for 4 buildings 51
Total $251

We also have had new expenses for gas in buildings, building expenses since the fire, and extinguishers.

building expenses in Indianola $125
rewiring 260
city and corp. expenses:
light meter 50
water meter 10
deposit for gas 100 (not yet met)
phone installation 75
fines 64
(11/1 Jackson $17
11/2 Tunica 34 Total $684
11/12 Indianola 13)

With the exception of the fines, these were sent to Jackson and we never received reimbursement. Some also were phoned in with no result.

D. Undue interference and personal harrassment from the Miss. Freedom School coordinator. Persons with incomplete knowledge of the situation cannot give advice.

E. We've raised over $20,000 in bail with no help from Jackson or Atlanta. This is since June. Over $1,100 we paid last month.

[p. 2]

F. We have had good experiences with the lawyers since summer. Perhaps this is because they are separate from the Jackson office.

G. When Bob Newell was beaten on the Courthouse steps on October 26, we phoned Jackson to no avail. No press release or anything.

SUMMARY: Insufficient funds, lack of cooperation, and incompetance have led the Sunflower County Project to the point of almost complete disregard and loss of respect for the Jackson office.

back to top