In March 1964, I quit graduate school. I sold everything I owned, and bought a one-way train ticket from California to Georgia.
I joined the staff at the Atlanta office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC. My job was to raise money for the historic Freedom Summer campaign, which brought over 1,000 white northern students to the Deep South.
I knew that funding the effort was important, so I licked thousands of stamps, twirled rotary phones, and nearly wore out our mimeograph machine. We told people all over America: “Progress in Mississippi Depends on You,” and people all over America donated to the cause.
That summer was a turning point in the civil rights movement, but it didn’t transform our country sufficiently to end oppression. We know today that another movement is necessary to respond to the violence and policies accompanying racism today. I know that SURJ is a crucial part of the movement we need. So once again, nearly 50 years after Freedom Summer, I’m asking America to fund the fight for racial justice.
Each month I give $12 to grow SURJ’s work for racial justice. Will you join me and chip in?
I joined SNCC and Freedom Summer because I believed that my own liberation was tied up with the black liberation movement. I still believe that today; the reason our country is dysfunctional is because of deep, systemic racism and white supremacy.
In 1964, my fellow white organizers and I knew we need to stand against racism, but many of us didn’t fully understand concepts like white privilege and white supremacy culture. We didn’t appreciate the degree to which white northerners were complicit in the lack of racial justice in the country. This is something that SURJ understands; as white people, we have to commit to the transformation of our own communities. We need to support organizations that help white people peel back the layers and figure out our place in the workings of structural and institutional racism.
I know from experience that the mainstream is not going to fund radical action and transformative work. We’ve got to step up to the plate, become monthly donors, and donate to black-led organizations. We have to make sure that we fund our movements over the long term, because I saw the 60s movement get to a place where people were worn out and not able to sustain their efforts. This is a long struggle. It’s a movement, not a moment, and we all need to understand fundraising as organizing, as one more way we ask each other to show up and put our values into action.
For me, donating to institutions that work for liberation is critical. Will join me and become a SURJ member by donating today?
I want to thank you for being a part of SURJ’s work this year. You’ve been taking action because you believe that white people can be part of the solution to racial injustice. You’ve stayed in the fight; you haven’t disappeared into the advantages and opportunities available to white people. Together, we are working in the white community to get white people to understand how to change themselves, and the structures, government policies, and plans that contribute to racial oppression.
We are a country of enormous wealth. For those of us with resources, we often spend a lot of money on trivial things, things we want, but maybe don’t need. When you donate to SURJ, you’re putting your money to work for something that really matters: racial justice. As part of that commitment, we ask all SURJ's donors (that’s gonna be you!) to give an equal sized donation to a Black-led racial justice organization. If you would like a suggestion, check out this list.
Thank you for supporting this historic movement against oppression,
Betty Robinson, SURJ Baltimore and former Northern Coordinator, SNCC
P.S. As of today, we have 194 members, giving $5+/month or $60/year. This is great! And we are 106 people away from our goal of 300 members by the end of the month. Will you help us reach our goal by donating today?