Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stokely Carmichael in Prattville, Alabama

I have always been told that Stokely Carmichael came and burned down part of Prattville, Alabama at some point in the sixties, however I had never read anything to confirm it(although anecdotally this story has been confirmed. However, tonight, while googling on the internet, I did run upon a document about Stokely Carmichael's visit to Prattville. The webpage, which is titled "Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement: Don Jelinek" is an interview in which Mr. Jelinek, an attorney who was affiliated with SNCC and civil rights workers and who was present in Selma and the deep south during that era reports that:

"Prattville: Your Wife and Children will Be Killed if Stokley or Any of Our People Die Tonight."
In late May of 1967, Stokely decided not to run again for chairman of SNCC, and was succeeded by Rap Brown. A few weeks later, on June 11, 1967, Kathy and I were visiting a professor couple at Tuskegee, who had worked on our survey, when a call came for me. It was Lowndes County SNCC leader Johnny Jackson.

"Don, we're trapped in Dan Houser's home in Prattville, a whole army's outside shooting at us," he yelled into the phone. I could hear gunshots in the background. "We're all going to be killed, Atlanta says you're the nearest. Don, try . . . "

The phone went dead. I quickly turned on the radio and heard a bulletin that martial law had been declared in Prattville, near Lowndes County, and that Stokely Carmichael had triggered off a riot. The phone rang again. Johnny told me that he could call out, but no calls could come in and his phone has been cutting off suddenly. He repeated that the house was surrounded and that I should do something. I said I would try."

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