Recap: Yonah went to a protest and he got hit by a bottle that someone threw at the protestors and he was bleeding. He sneaked back into the house, because he didn’t want the Hartsteins to know where he had been.
The next night, I headed over to the Chaneys’ house for a visit. I needed that warmth and love from Mrs. Chaney right now. She took a look at the bandage on my forehead and asked, “Did you get hurt from the protest yesterday?”
She clucked her tongue.
“It’s dangerous here with these protests. I don’t know what to say. It’s awful, they are hurting innocent people… just want the right to vote and be counted as citizens and you tryin’ to help and you get hurt. Not right.” She said, “Oh, I brought you some food from the Rebbetzin in Greenwood. She says to tell you, you invited for the Sabbath.”
She served me some cold chicken and a salad.
“Wow, thanks so much,” I said between bites. This was amazing.
I would have to ask my relatives about going to Greenwood.
Mrs. Chaney explained to me how to go by bus. “It’s a good hour ride,” she said.
James strode into the house and greeted me. “Hey, what’s up?”
“Did Mickey get bailed out?” I asked.
“Yeh, and Rita headed for Ohio tonight to train more students who wanna come help here.”
“How do you feel about all these people coming, mostly white, to help you,” I asked.
James said, “I appreciate it. It shows there is kindness in the world.”
I thought about what he meant. Here we were fighting pure evil in some people, and on the flip side it brought out pure kindness in others.
Later, as we headed to the Freedom School, we drove past Sheriff Price, who was swaggering down the street. Price was wearing a cowboy hat and boots. Luckily, he was busy talking to someone and he didn’t notice us drive by.
“He’s part of the KKK,” James said.
“That’s crazy. A law enforcer is part of that.”
When we pulled up to the Freedom School, I was surprised to see a few parked cars.
“Who’s here?” I asked.
“Maybe some of the Northern students arrived already.”
James was right. Mickey smiled at us when we walked in. He was in the middle, talking to a large group of people who were both white and black. He stroked his small goatee and said, “Now, remember, this place is not a safe place to walk around in an integrated group. We’re working on that. The first step is getting the vote for the black people, so they can vote in representatives who have their best interest in mind.”
There was one young man with dark hair and an expressive face who stood up and said, “I am so excited to be here and to be part of history here. Thank you for all that you are doing.”
“This is Andy Goodman,” Mickey announced. “He’s here to change the world.”
“You’re all here… each of us is here to change the world. To make it a kinder, more forgiving, more peaceful place.”
Mickey looked tired. Being in jail and the protest and everything was taking its toll.
It was getting late and I knew I had to be back before the Hartsteins got mad.
I went over and introduced myself to Andy.
“Where are you from?” I asked him.
“I’m from New York. I grew up in Manhattan,” he said.
“Wow, this is a lot different from that.”
“Yeah, it is. I go to Queens College.”
“Why did you decide to come here?” I asked. Why would anyone want to come to this place? I wished I hadn’t come here. ow did you end up here?”
“At Queens College they had some really incredible programs. CORE members came to speak to us. We met people who’d been really hurt by the system who came and told us what it was like in Mississippi. Then there were people recruiting and I decided to sign up for the summer. I wasn’t taking classes now anyway.”
He said, “You know, Mickey’s wife also went to Queens College.”
“I’m a junior in high school,” I said. “The school I’m in now, it’s all white. There are so many crazy things here. You’ll see when you take a bus or go to a water fountain or restaurant. Everything is separated by race.”
I explained how my grandparents died and how I ended up in Mississippi next door to jailkeepers.
“Sounds like you need to be careful,” he said. “Your relative is not going to approve you being here. It could rile up that awful neighbor.”
”Yeah, that neighbor forced me to go to a KKK meeting,” I said.
Andy grimaced. “I’ve heard about that organization. Was it as creepy as I imagine?”
“Creepy and evil,” I said.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Denver Dreams (a novel, Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in various magazines including A Bridge in Time – historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes for the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and she writes the Queens page for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.