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“Freedom Walkers” Debate Teenagers in Georgia

May 2, 1963 - Ten “Freedom Walkers” — five whites and five Negroes — engaged in a debate this afternoon with fifteen white teenagers in Rising Fawn, Georgia. The walkers, members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), have vowed to complete the journey begun by William L. Moore, a 35-year-old Baltimore postman who was murdered Apr. 23 in Keener, Ala. “What are you all trying to prove? What do you want?” a teenager asked the walkers. Winston Lockett (lower right), 21, a Negro who is field secretary of SNCC, replied: “I seek a society where people are united because segregation separates people.” Some white youths sneered, but their faces reflected a growing interest as the debate ranged over school desegregation, the desires of Negroes, and the South. “Do you think black and white should mix?” another asked Mr. Lockett. “It’s not whether they’re black or white,” he replied. “I’m in favor of people mixing.” A white who had been referring to the group as “nigras,” the common Southern pronunciation, changed to “Negro” mid-debate. “Why do you Negroes want to go to school with whites?” he asked. Mr. Lockett answered: “So people can get to know one another.” Robert Zellner, 24, a white Alabamian and spokesman for SNCC, handed the white youths a card from an Illinois high school. It showed a white running for president of the student body and a Negro for vice president. “That’s in the North,” a white teenager said. “Let it stay in the North.” “Why? What’s the difference between the North and the South?” “The South works. The North don’t work.” The whites left, apparently unconvinced, but it seemed that a few carried questions in their minds. “I’m certain that they will think of some of the things I said — maybe not today or tomorrow, but sometime,” said Mr. Lockett.



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