The original purpose [of Wednesdays in Mississippi], as I understood it, was to give a sense of legitimacy to these college kids, to our kids, not mine, but it was a pretty close neighborhood. Those were our kids. And come down to Mississippi, a bunch of lovely ladies of all colors and ages, and to come dressed like ladies and behave like ladies, which we didn’t ordinarily—we spent a lot of time in blue jeans—and show the kids that we cared, and to live in the community and show the community that we were nice ladies with good backgrounds and good thoughts, a good education, and we were to scout out our own place to fit into this. It sounded like a great idea to me.…I felt it was the right thing to do. First of all, I did have a real connection and a real sympathy and interest in what the college kids were doing that year. I really did. And if this was some help to them—and it was presented originally more as a backup for the kids, and there’s no reason—for the same reason if one of the kids in the neighborhood fell off his bike in front of your house, you picked him up and brushed him off. That was the same thing. But of course, it developed to be much more… Well, we met down at the airport, and we took a plane together, and Doris met us with a car and dropped us off where we were supposed to be. I don’t know, I was insecure. I could find my way around Paris and I could get along very fine in London, but I wasn’t real sure about what I could do in Jackson, Mississippi, and she was our shepherd… I’m trying to think what else [we did]. Mostly we ate in each other’s homes. We didn’t go out for fancy meals at a restaurant, and we did not take on the right to sit at the same soda fountain kind of a thing. That’s not what we were after. That was an issue at the time, too… Polly’s eyes were way above a shared soda. Am I right? And her eyes were to support the kids and to help guarantee the right to vote and to live where you wanted to live. I think that’s about as much as we could handle. That’s a big bite at that time. It doesn’t sound like anything now. Rights Owner: National Park Service/Mary McLeod Bethune Council House Description: This excerpt comes from an oral history interview with Wednesdays in Mississippi (WIMS) participant Sylvia Weinberg Radov that was conducted by Anne Moore (the daughter of another WIMS participant) in Chicago in 2002 for a project about Wednesdays in Mississippi. In the excerpt Radov describes the purpose of WIMS, in her understanding, and what the women did while in Jackson, Mississippi.
Suggested Discussion Questions:
For lesson plans on Wednesdays in Mississippi project, visit http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/civilrights/community-organizing-ii-wednesdays-in-mississippi
Time Period: Modern (Spinoza through post-WWII)