In April of 1965 I knew:
- I was going somewhere in the Deep South to register black voters.
- I would be part of a group of students from the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford, Modesto Community College and Santa Rosa Community College. If possible, I would be assigned to a voter project with them. SCLC used college campuses as an organizational tool. I knew none of these people.
- I had a reading list, a packing list, and a statement of the money I needed. And I had a little more money than I had to have.
- The project would last ten weeks.
- People had been abused and had died doing what I was about to do.
- I had a safe place to come home to.
- I was compelled and inspired to go no matter what.
What I didn’t know:
- What the training entailed or who would be sponsoring it other than the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
- Where I would sleep and what I would eat or where my next meal would come from.
- How I would get home.
- Who I could trust – southern sheriffs weren’t big on out list of trustworthy people.
- How molasses-slow the southern culture was.
- How little direction there would be once we got to our communities.
- The toll southern heat and humidity would take on my emotional, physical and mental state – not to mention my complexion. When I came home my dad said my skin looked like the Guatemala country side.
- How I would respond to stark fear, exhaustion, and a different culture
My father had a perfect way of saying it. I was flying “on a wing and a prayer.”