The Undeterred

"Everyone in Oxford is very upset about the three missing workers from the Philadelphia area." 

Thanks to the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, we have a brief glimpse of daily life for the Freedom Summer volunteers still in training in Oxford, Ohio, after the disappearance of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner on June 21, 1964.  

The memo, dated June 24, 1964, was written by Agent X, a black man from Mississippi who had joined the movement to spy for the Sovereignty Commission and traveled to Oxford.

The ostensible purpose of the document is to report on the comments by movement leader James Lawson that morning regarding a recent conversation with Martin Luther King, and King's plans "to clean things up" in Jackson -- just the kind of fear fantasy the Sovereignty Commission loved to traffic in. 

More pertinent today are Lawson's comments on the importance that the students remain non-violent once in Mississippi.     

"He told [the students] that they were not going to Mississippi to make war, although it would be worse than a war, as they would be beaten by the police and local people." And worse. 

And more poignant is the students' resolve in spite of the clear and present danger they faced in Mississippi.   

"They are very hurt [by the news about the three who disappeared] but say they will not stop their plans," Agent X reports.

"Floods of telegrams and telephone calls came into Oxford from the parents of their students and the students would not answer them until urged to do so by the officials." 

A Confederate Education

Nathan Bedford Forrest has lost another one. The decision to change the name of the Jacksonville, Florida, high school that has born his name since 1959 was made late last year. Now that the school year is over, his name is coming down and signs for the new name, Westside High, are going up.

Luckily for the children of Jacksonville, a complete Confederate education is still available, first grade through senior year. Deo Vindice.    


Rougesang by dood van Mandela by Antjie Krog

This a straight-up Google translation of Antjie Krog's poem about Mandela, written in Afrikans. The original is here

Krog is a South African poet who, among other things, covered the work of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa, her account of that grueling, frustrating, incomplete but transformative process, is a small masterpiece, and should be required reading for everyone who today is so easily, if rightfully, praising Mandela for his commitment to reconciliation.   


underground a ridge moved

Earth stumble

confused tottering sun

When his breath left him in the night

the stars geduisel

because everything is intertwined

throttling to death

His death and death alone

once everything is sad

as if we were in a big shadow standing

if we break through glass

if we splinter into stone

as if our minds in whispering groups around desperate flight

like spears into the ground stuck


at Qunu refused this morning to the herds of the family to go

Lusikisiki to lay the fish close to the surface

in Mvezo bustards make no sound

the thought of Mandela let's interiors break

(We wanted his dying body see)

we can not even open the mouth

(We wanted his dying body see)

to start talking about his death to discuss his works

(We wanted his dying body see)

his blood which dart like a leopard for justice

(We wanted his dying body see)

to tell of his works, his incredibly soft power

(We wanted his dying body see)

the lovely flowering seams of his skull forgiving

(We wanted his dying body see)

the battering ram of his tongue

that futures to an associated nuclear wring

we can not do justice to our great

(We wanted his dying body see)

we do not see

in the walkways on the sidewalks, in bushes along the roads

bundle together our silence, we gewones

We sprinkle our tears over him

We sprinkled the legacy

the Fearless Warrior we once ruled

We sprinkled the body that need to be washed

We sprinkled the blood of Mandela opened

gewones we were not with water but with songs

grudgingly we take his body

we had it, we bathe them

with hands that loved him, we get to his deeds

we give him, from hand to hand

high above our heads

the man we saved ourselves

o singing blood of the son of uNosekeni

o palms of Mvezo with stars and rain to the shores

o Qunu arms of a country's deepest wounds embrace

Great Aanmekaarbinder

nobody's larynx could Mandela's song End of singing

nobody ever deglaze our Great Saambinder for us

no one surpassed him in moral authority

no leader is ever so his people loved not

he is our best face wash

he that we ourselves gave it back

the embodiment of the world's desire

to someone who cares

whose acts unashamedly goodness would bring

beloved Mandela, bring blessing to us, your children

let your life his fingerprint on all of us

it will be long before we ever a man so noble

someone as stubborn and healing nicely

tough by nature so strict principle of including

so elegant and astoundingly heart of our mortal arms can hold

- Antjie Krog

(Based on the lament written for Moshoeshoe 1, "LITHOKHOKISO le tse tsa Moshoeshoe up" by David Cranmer Theko Bereng.)