Document 45: [Casey Hayden (aka Sandra Cason)], "Memorandum on Structure," Waveland, Mississippi, [6-12 November 1964], Elaine DeLott Baker Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. 2 pp.
The structure that Casey Hayden proposed in this paper addressed some of Jim Forman's concerns (see Document 36A), while maintaining SNCC's central allegiance to a decision-making structure that is driven by the organizers in the field. This is how Casey recently described the context that led to her position paper:
Jim Forman, working from SNCC's central office in Atlanta, twice called in some SNCC field staff to affirm his plan for a larger Southwide summer project modeled on Freedom Summer, with black student volunteers rather than white volunteers. Organizers were reeling from the violence, the impact of the new racial imbalance, the lack of direction and money, and, most of all, to have found the Democratic Party, for whom all these voters were being registered, in the role of racist lunch counter owner refusing entrance to the MFDP at the Atlantic City convention. The core of SNCC's work, voter registration, was open to question. Staff refused to affirm Jim's plan. The central office called a staff retreat in Waveland, Mississippi and invited staff to respond to a series of questions that Atlanta thought were important.
There was no way to make a decision in SNCC at this point; we had no command structure; there was no regular communication between Atlanta and the organizers. We had been flying by the seat of our pants for years. Jim opened the meeting with a plan for a decision making structure which spoke to the structural needs of the Atlanta office. Bob Moses contributed a paper (Document 37A) on structure which spoke to the structural needs of organizers. We needed both. Why we couldn't see that was beyond me. My comments were an attempt to get us through the impasse. I agreed we needed structure, basically Jim's, while maintaining both SNCC's central allegiance to programmatic control by organizers in the field and respect for the way we had organically developed, the ways we actually operated.
(Casey Hayden to Elaine DeLott Baker, 11 September 2014)
MEMORANDUM ON STRUCTURE
The Coordinating Committee would be the staff and these people which are invited by the staff to attend. It would be the basic decision-making body and would function pretty much as Jim suggests.
At the Coordinating Committee meeting we would have committees meet. These committees would be the same as our workshops on program this time. The committees, in other words, would be composed largely of people working in a given program full time, with the addition of others who wanted to come. They would meet three times a year at the Coordinating Committee meeting.
The committees would be set up by each Coordinating Committee meeting. There would be a committee for each program we have or want to have. This time we had committees on Freedom Schools, Community Centers, Voter Registration, Unions, Political Organizing, Public Accomodations, Literacy. Before the meeting is over, we should have meetings of committees on our other program areas (most of which Jim calls administration): Northern Support, Southern Campuses, Communications, Research, Education. We would be sure to set meetings of the committees so that people working in the field can go to meetings of committees that don't relate directly to field programs and vice versa. These committees will select someone to suggest to the body to coordinate the program they outline and help them carry it out. Sometimes this will mean they shift to Atlanta and travel from there; sometimes they can go on with work in their area, and still kind of see the program is carried out. So Featherstone and Cobb and Amanda will coordinate the Freedom School program and John Perdew, still in South West Georgia will work on the union workshop.
This will provide for getting leadership for all our programs directly from the staff and will do away with the administration idea in Jim's paper, which makes many program areas responsible to one person rather than to all of us.
Between the meeting of the Coordinating Committee there should be a group which can review the work of the people who aro coordinating the work the committees have outlined. This group can be called an executive committee. It whould be a workable size, maybe about 15 people. It should call in anyone they need to have at the meeting part or all of the time to get information. But the people actually on the committee would not be there because they were head of this or that. We would elect the Executive Committee from the staff at large and should elect people we trust to make sure what we wanted to happen at the last Coordinating Committee meeting is really happening. They might be people who were head of a program area (like Northern Coordinator) or a project director, but they would not be there because they were head of the area but because we might trust them to serve on the committee.
Everyone who wanted could come to meetings of the Executive Committee and some people who were needed would be specifically invited, but they would understand that they are not there to act as the committee (which was elected by all of us at the Coordinating Committee.) If there were decisions about crucial things that could not be made by the Exec. Comm., they would call a special staff meeting or would delay decision until the meeting of the Coordinating Committee.
Jin's proposal seens to try to give representation to program areas and project areas, but I think if the Coordinating Committee really functions (as it hasn't) then it will make basic decisions and the function of the Exec. Comm. will be to see they are carried out. If this is the case, we need good people we will trust to do that, rather than someone to go and represent our views on crucial issues.
Maybe one of the reasons SNCC's functioning seems so confused is that the way we really work isn't reflected in our formal structure. I think the above plan doesn't impose any unneccessary structure on the way we really work and it allows for as much staff participation as possible.
There are some problems not included above because I don't understand them entirely:
1. The Executive Secretary ond Chairman: I don't understand the difference. Maybe Chairman has been spokesman and Exec. Secretary responsible for the carrying out of programs. If we have a lot of people responsible for carrying out programs and responsible to the staff as a whole maybe we don't need such a strong exec.
2. Personnel: Personnel committees don't function because personnel decisions are day to day decisions. I suggest we outline at the Coordinating Committee personnel policies and have someone in Atlanta responsible for hiring, on an interim basis and with consultation with people working in the different program areas and projects. These hirings can be approved by the exec committee.
3. Program Secretary: I do think we need someone, maybe the same person as the personnel person, to work directly with the field and kind of help the Coordinators of program that relate to the field with problems they night have. This would be the person you'd call if you needed a car and there was a hangup with the transportation person or who would find out for you why you didn't get your check for a month and Chessie said it was sent. Maybe program secretary isn't the right word for this kind of person, but there really has to be someone to get people out of bureaucatic jams and help them with programs the program coordinators aren't already handling.
4. Who is on the Coordinating Committee: Jim suggests we solve this with a Call Committee. Again, I just don't think committees function well for us unless they are made up of people involved in the work, Maybe the Executive Committee should plan and call CC meetings by letting the staff know they are happening and by indicating they are only for staff, but if staff knows of anyone else who really should come, they can let X (the Exec. Secretary) know.
5. Finances: The Executive Committee should be responsible for outlining the budget and the financial report in such a way that everyone can understand it. Finances is probably the general responsibility of the Exec. Secretary, but the whole staff should be able to understand questions like how much are we spending on offices compared with the field? And what salaries are people getting and why?
| Documents Projects and Archives | Teacher's Corner | Scholar's Edition | Full-Text Sources | About Us | Contact Us |