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Interview with Charles Sherrod
Well, the way that SCLC organized um, could be described uh, like this. A field secretary for SCLC would come into town and talk to the leaders, the uh, assumed leaders in a town, like the ministers, uh, the lawyers, teachers, the professional people in the community, and would uh, then direct them toward some goals and some objectives, short-range, long-range, goals, and then bring in the other, the children, and the high-school students and college students. The way Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee went after it was uh, I'd say, exactly opposite. We would go into a town and find out where the children hung out, the uh high school kids, the uh college kids. And find out what was happening, you know, what was the main issue in the various communities. In one town, might be five or six issues. Perhaps uh, I believe in Albany, Georgia, there was a lot of brutality from police going on, that sort of thing, so, you think of uh what is it, that would upset, that has upset people the most in the community. And after observing that, move the young people toward that, and deal with it. Segregation in, anyway, in those days, of course, was an issue. So from issues we went to who was the spirited among the people, among the young people. Who talked the most? Who was the, who were the leaders among the young people? And uh, after talking about the issues, after talking about the method, that, that we thought would achieve those goals and short-range and long-range objectives that we had, then we uh, made our move, trying to uh develop some imagery of leadership. What I mean by that, is that most people don't see themselves as being leaders, although they're just natural leaders, some people just natural leaders. There's an old lady on the block who has always been the one that people go to, to talk to. To solve, help them to solve their problems and so forth. We find those people out. Those are the leaders, natural leaders, been leaders for years and years and years. Helping people to get on welfare, helping people to uh, get unemployment compensation, you know, Social Security. Those things are meaningful to them at various uh, points in their life. And uh, then we would move, nonviolently, toward one of those objectives, uh, assuming that when we move toward one objective, we would get opposition. We would be pushed one way. We would lean a little bit, and then move in another way, based on what strategy should be taken.