Document 60: [Jesse Morris] to Jackson SNCC Staff, Jackson, Mississippi, [23 November 1964], Elaine DeLott Baker Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.
In October 1964, the Jackson office asked project directors in Mississippi to submit reports on their projects. Nine of these reports are included here (Documents 52-60). Jesse Morris, a California native and economics graduate, took the job of Jackson project manager when no one else volunteered. He was organized and committed, but was unable to resolve the myriad conflicts post-Freedom Summer. His request for calm and logic was drowned out in the general wake of the fall confusion. In December 1964 he closed the Jackson office for two weeks; it re-opened under the leadership of Muriel Tillinghast, a Howard student whose direct style brought order to the office. Jesse remained in Mississippi, working on local economic initiatives and lives there still. That four of the five coordinators listed in this report were women, with three of the four being white women, highlighting the meaningful opportunities open to them. This is not surprising, since most Black staff--male or female--were assigned to work in local communities, where black leadership was a priority.
There has been much criticism of the "Jackson office" recently. 10 days ago there was a meeting in Jackson called for the purpose of "re-organizing" the office. The minutes of this meeting are under cover letter. Unfortunately, the minutes were not well taken and the spirit of the meeting, as well as a considerable amount of the discussion that took place during the meeting, are missing.
The Jackson office will no doubt and should be discussed at this staff meeting. It would be helpful if the discussion were guided along constructive lines rather than having the entire staff hurl all their brick-brats at the Jackson office.
As it is presently staffed, this is what the Jackson office is supposed to be doing:
A. informing field of what is taking place on other projects
B. keeping Northern contacts informed
C. dealing with the press
D. files and records
2. Financial Distribution
A. money for budgets
B. money for leasing of houses
C. money for emergencies
A. assigning of cars
B. money for repairing of cars
4. Food and Clothing (no staff person)
A. procuring of food and clothing from the North
B. distributing food and clothing throughout the projects
5. Legal Assistance (Henry Aronson)
this has been moved to the legal office
6. Program Coordination
A. Freedom Schools (Liz Fusco)
B. Community Centers (Lois Chaffee, Lorne Cress)
C. FDP (Lawrence Guyot)
D. Federal Programs (Jane Adams)
E. Voter Registration (?)
7. WATS Line
A. taking information from projects
B. relaying messages for projects
A. soliciting for new people
B. orienting new people
C. assigning new people
D. handling complaints about "volunteers"
To discuss the Jackson office meaningfully and constructively, the staff will have to make suggestions as to how the above areas can be made to function better than they have. To use Jackson as a scapegoat for all the field's shortcomings is rather dishonest and will get us nowhere.
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