I just renewed contact with an old college buddy who dropped out to do stuff that was more important — fighting for racial justice in the deep south in the dangerous '60s. And to write about it, so the rest of us could get some idea of what it was all about. His short recap here of some of his experiences and people he worked with or encountered, from his earlier writings (in The Nation and elsewhere) is an important reminder of how intense, risky and, at the same time, joyful that struggle was.
Reporting Civil Rights: Perspectives on Reporting: Peter de Lissovoy - Returning to Georgia
He writes so vividly and was involved in such exciting, frightening, and sometimes hilarious events (check out "The Great Pool Jump") that I've just ordered his novel, Feelgood.
Peter and I are nearly the same age, both grew up near Chicago and went to Harvard, but then we took off in different directions — me, to South America, he to Southwest Georgia. Except for one brief foray into the deep South, my involvement in civil rights was mostly northern and urban (in Evanston when I was a grad student at Northwestern U, later with the Black Panthers and Young Lords and others in Chicago). Southwest Georgia was like another planet.
Yes, he's right in his retrospective, we did manage to change the world a little bit for the better with all our serious, enthusiastic and sometimes foolhardy acts. Southwest Georgia is not the same today (not nearly as unjust, though far from perfect) as it was before he and Randy and C. B. King and all the others worked their magic, in all their different ways. I'm glad to have found you again, Pete.