CREDOS : Change — III

Cheryl Rivers

The papers published the address of COFO (the Council of Federated Organisations) —the group in Jackson that was coordinating civil rights activities, perhaps in the hope that someone would go and firebomb the place. Once we knew where the COFO office was, my friend Gary and I decided we had to go and volunteer. At first the COFO volunteers didn’t want to have anything to do with 15-year-old high school students. They didn’t trust us; I think the first time we went there we didn’t even get past the porch. We kept showing up, and finally by the end of that summer we got some small volunteer jobs. It was the first time we had met Afro-American people who, like James Chaney, were committed to the cause, and willing to take chances.

We relied on TV news, since the newspapers censored the wire-service stories. And just as Vietnam was later called a living-room war, throughout my adolescence, we in Mississippi learned about the civil rights movement around the country from television. We were very aware of the work of SNCC (the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), and we knew that the summer of 1964 was going to be a big push for voter registration and freedom schools, where Afro-Americans were hel-ped to prepare to pass the voter-registration test. Volunteers, like Andrew Go-odman and Michael Schwerner, both white men from New York, came to Mississippi to help in the effort. —