Sunday, February 18, 2001

Through Spokane's eyes

A look back

Kennedys should investigate CORE

From The Spokesman-Review, May, 22, 1961.

Our federal government is now deeply involved in the problem of maintaining order in the urban areas of Alabama as a result of the racial violence in Montgomery last Saturday.

The outbreak came after Gov. John Patterson had assured Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy that no federal assistance was needed or desired by state and local authorities in their handling of the minor disorders.

These disorders were anticipated when groups of so-called “Freedom Riders” moved in, some days ago, to break down segregation customs in bus terminals and on buses.

It was with the full knowledge and approval of President Kennedy that Atty. Gen. Kennedy dispatched hundreds of federal officers to the areas of violence. The Kennedys were naturally alarmed over the physical attacks by local citizens upon some of the “Freedom Riders” and those who accompanied them.

Some of the outsiders who moved into Montgomery have been egged on by leaders and members of an organization known as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Their actions, in turn, aroused local antagonisms which, in turn, brought on the outright violence _ which, in turn, caused the Kennedys to order and direct federal intervention.

It is fervently hoped that the situation can be placed under control of competent and cool law enforcement officers who respect the local laws and regulations.

But before the memory of Saturday's deplorable rioting fades away, it is hoped that the Kennedys investigate the CORE organization, its basic purposes and its tactics.

There may be some evidence to be uncovered that would be helpful in preventing further outbreaks of this sort. Such evidence might also help all law-abiding citizens to know whether the original agitators have been knowingly linked with subversive elements in this country.

A cooling off is sorely needed

From The Spokesman-Review, May 25, 1961.

Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy expressed his hope Wednesday that there would a cooling off period in the Deep South, after the violence and strained racial relations which have existed, especially in Alabama and Mississippi, in recent days.

What Mr. Kennedy apparently meant to convey was a direct appeal to the so-called “Freedom Riders” to refrain from the type of activity that has aroused great emotions in that part of the country and has resulted in American embarrassment abroad.

It is hoped that the persons and the organizations which have been seriously involved in these incidents will get the idea of the attorney general's request. The way in which Gov. John Patterson of Alabama has welcomed the Kennedy statement is a fair indication of the need of a real cooling off period.

Wisdom must rule

From the Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 25, 1961.

If it were possible to take a quick opinion vote from all American citizens about what is happening in the Deep South, surely an overwhelming majority would call for reason and restraint from both directions.

Surely Southerners as a whole would decry the failure of Alabama's governor and law-enforcement agencies to move swiftly against the rioting that gave Montgomery an ugly look to all eyes.

Surely most of America's millions of Negroes would decry the aspect of “incitement to riot,” which a great many citizens simply cannot help seeing in the journey of the “Freedom Riders.”

There is a right way and there is a wrong way to advance toward a solution of a deep sociological problem with “deliberate speed.” A calculated opening of the wounds does not look like the best way to make sound progress against a generations-old attitude.

The world gets a warped and inflammatory picture of the rioting from Communist lie-mongers. Yet the rioting did occur, this nation cannot deny.

What a shame equal circulation is not given a new story of the overall economic advance of Negroes in America. It uses authentic figures to show that per capita, their income may average higher than that of any other country's people, of any and all races.

This is a vital part of the story, too, and all Americans of all races can take pride in that chapter. Letters to the editor, The Spokesman-Review, May 25, 1961 Reds in Alabama

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