Remembering Mississippi, 1964-65
Interview with Claudia Morcom

Feeley, Dianne; Finkel, David
Date Written:  2014-05-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2014
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20435

Feeley and Finkel interview Morcom about her work in Mississippi during Freedom Summer 1964 and subsequently from September 1964 through October 1965, as Southern Regional Director for the National Lawyers Guild's program of legal assistance for civil rights workers.



I had one secretary, Carolyn, a young Black woman Crockett had found. We were assigned cases from all over Mississippi. My home in Tougaloo was 20 minutes from our office, which was located in a building that the Black Shriners owned. The Mississippi community was very grateful to have us there and bringing in all the lawyers.

Doctors and lawyers came down for weeks or months, and I was there for a year, from September '64 till October '65. During that time -- because my name at the time was Shropshire and given that my grandmother was Native American -- it turned out that Carolyn didn't realize I was Black!

We had to drive all the way to Oxford for a relatively decent federal judge to sign release papers, because Judge Cox in Jackson wouldn't. We were always driving somewhere. The county justices of the peace weren’t really judges, many were farmers and had very little legal background. We were scared when cars drove past us. We were being watched every day.

One day we arrived late in Oxford, and went directly to the judge's home. He told us to go into court the next morning and the orders would be signed. So we had to stay at a Holiday Inn. Rita Schwerner (the widow of murdered civil rights worker Michael Schwerner -- ed.) had accompanied me. I asked her to go in and get a room for us. We couldn't go the restaurant together so we ordered room service. One Black hotel worker took our order, then shortly afterwards another Black hotel worker stopped by to check on the order. Still another brought us our dinner, and finally the chef came in his dress uniform. I asked them what was going on and they said they'd never seen a white and Black together on equal terms.

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