Document 29: Elayne DeLott to Benjamin and Rosa DeLott, "i am still fine," Canton, Mississippi, [mid-October 1964], Elaine DeLott Baker Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.
When I returned to Mississippi after recovering from an asthma attack, I continued to work in Canton. To keep from getting sick from the allergens in the air from ginning season, I commuted to Canton from "Literacy House" in Tougaloo/Jackson, a distance of twenty-six miles. This letter to my parents was another sanitized communication, downplaying the danger and attempting to shift attention to the details of my work. The December 3rd "cotton vote" was an opportunity to build a political organization as well as to make an immediate impact on the economic lives of Black farmers. Like most of our political efforts, there was a dual purpose--organizing around an immediate need and organizing for political power in the future.
dear mama and daddy,
i am still fine, surprise, surprise. seriously, things are really quiet around here. once in a while someone gets picked up for speeding or something, but they still not are beaten or treated in any rough way. the harrassment is much more dirty looks than violence, the place is crawling with fbi people investigating police practices and voting practices so veryone is really well behaved. do not worry. i like the work i am doing very much and am always changing it a little bit. i have started working with social security, welfare, and unemployment practices - getting local people to learn what they should be doing about these things, and getting the agencies to operate cleaner, and start working on economic redevelopment plans for these areas where there is so much poverty. at the particular tine i am helping organize the town into blocks and precincts for the freedom democratic party. you have to teach these people how to run a political machine. they have been doing all their organizing through churches up to now, but need a real political organization.
i work alot, at least there is little idle time, although we don't have a steady schedule each day. i have plenty of time to do what i want when i want it, like my own work, but of course i don't really have any freedom to move. this is a safety precaution, we are not allowed out at night in the community, and preferably should never travel anywhere after dark. there is no difference between a saturday and a tuesday. we are all moving toward the nov. 3 feedom election right now, and are all devoting our efforts to that. when that is finished we can use the political machine we built to organize the people behind other projects.
tell me what is new with all of you down there. miss you, and will write.
by the way, do you have my address?
838 lutz st, canton, miss.
phone - 859-9944.
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