Interview with Peter Orris
QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT KINDS OF THINGS FROM THE SUMMER MADE A, MADE A BIG CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE AS TO WHO YOU WERE, HOW DID YOU CHANGE FROM WHO YOU WERE IN THE BEGINNING OF THE SUMMER TO WHO YOU WERE AFTERWARDS?

Peter Orris:

The summer of 1964 in Mississippi um, changed me considerably. Uh, it changed me because I now had a security in my beliefs and that I was willing to put my life on the line for my beliefs. Uh, that was a security that was important in the next several years. Uh, many activities of the student movement in the next several years uh, back at Harvard and, and various places around the country in SDS, were stimulated by uh, the fact that people were proving their radicalism, and felt the need to prove their radicalism. Those of us that had been in Mississippi uh, did not have that need. Uh, we knew where we stood and we knew what we were ready to do for our beliefs. The other thing that the uh, Mississippi summer did for me was - and for many of us who returned to the northern college campuses afterwards, it changed the parameters of struggle for us. Um, prior to that point, we engaged in various kinds of debating activities, we may have demonstrated uh, but that was the range of our activity. Following the Mississippi summer, nonviolent direct action became a weapon in our armamentarium to… a, a, a weapon in our struggle to draw attention to the questions that we thought were of burning importance. In California it was manifested at the free speech movement, led by veterans from the Mississippi summer. In Boston and at Harvard it was manifested by demonstrations around the war in Vietnam early in 1965, that were nonviolent direct action demonstrations um, that we felt comfortable with and we understood uh, the issues and how to be involved in it

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

[This is Camera Roll 414, it's the beginning of Sound Roll 1353, continuation of Orris, 5/19/86, Blackside, Eyes on the Prize, Team B, film 5.]