Cover for HOLSAERT: Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. Click for larger image“I looked down at the speedometer. It hovered at 115. My 1957 Packard hunkered down and propelled the three of us down Mississippi Interstate 55. As I glanced to the side, I saw the two-toned 1967 Chevy with its white occupants trying to pass us . . . yet again. The barrel of a long gun poked up between the two men in the front seat.

It seemed like an eternity since we had left Memphis and got on the interstate. Earlier that day, my companions, an older black woman and her daughter, and I had left a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee gathering at Highlander Center in Tennessee. We were on our way to the Mississippi Delta. Traveling in an integrated car in daylight had left us all a little tense. When we stopped for gas in Memphis that evening, I thought the cover of darkness meant the worst of the journey was over. Then I turned from the gas pump and saw the white male occupants of the Chevy staring at us. It was the fall of 1964, open season on civil rights workers.” —Maria Varela, from Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC (University of Illinois Press, October 2010)

John Lewis, Julian Bond, and Hands on the Freedom Plow contributor Maria Varela will be interviewed by CNN about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s 1963 March on Washington on Friday, August 27, in the 12:00 p.m. hour (Eastern Time Zone).

Comments are closed.