October 1-4, 2015
Rev. Willie Bolden
My friends, we have lost two courageous freedom fighters within the past couple weeks.
Last week we lost Willie Bolden, who many of you knew or knew of. Bolden was one of those fearless people who were a part of the Movement. That fearlessness was on display in St. Augustine, Florida, and in Selma. He was a great organizer and knew how to turn a community upside down. He was amazing at getting young people to follow him. Last Tuesday evening, we lost him. Most of you know that Bolden was on the planning committee for the SCOPE 50th Reunion. He was the first SCLC veteran that I talked to about the Reunion. He was enthusiastic about supporting the Reunion and felt that it was long overdue. However, very soon he became ill. But that didn't stop him from doing his best to support the Reunion efforts, particularly reaching out to the Mayor's Office and the U.S. Parks Department in Atlanta. I feel fortunate that for the last year and a half, we were able to spend time together and communicate with one another. I called him one day and he informed me that he was at the hospital and was about to be taken down for surgery. He and I talked and prayed with one another every other week up until the very end. Bolden will be truly missed. I think we are all better by knowing him and working with him.
I have been in touch with his wife, and she has give me the following information regarding services and funeral arrangements for Bolden: On Friday, January 29, from 7-9 p.m., there will be a memorial service for Movement veterans and civic leaders at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 3646 Hogan Road SW, Atlanta. Those attending may choose to wear denim. On Saturday, January 30, at 1 p.m., the funeral will be held at Friendship Community Church, 4141 Old Fairburn Road, Atlanta (College Park).
The other freedom fighter that we recently lost is Robert Johnson, who some of us worked with as well. His funeral was held a couple weeks ago.
I encourage all of us to be in prayer for both Bolden's and Robert's family.
Remember the past victories
To Prepare for Todays Battle:
voter disfanchisement, educational deprivation, and poverty.
The Second Freedom Summer
SCOPE was the summer 1965 voter registration project run by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Expecting the Voting Rights Act to pass in June, Dr. King invited hundreds of college students to come South in order to help people register to vote under the relaxed rules of the VRA. Since the VRA did not pass until August 6, project workers brought people to be registered both under the old rules and the new in six Southern states.
On October 1-4, 2015, we gathered in Atlanta to celebrate the 50th anniversary of SCLC’s SCOPE project and SCLC’s long fight for justice in the South.
50 years ago, young people answered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to spend the summer of 1965 in the South registering black people to vote in cooperation with SCLC activists and supporters.
50 years later, those young people are now older. We need to celebrate what we accomplished that summer. The Reunion will give us an opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues and friends and share with each other the impact that SCOPE and SCLC has had in our lives. But we also want to share our stories with the young people of today. Perhaps learning how to make use of our methods, along with their use of technology, will help them to be more effective in making the changes still needed in the world today.
The SCLC/SCOPE 50th Anniversary Reunion will begin with a Reception on Thursday, October 1. On Friday night, there will be a dinner honoring our past and looking toward the future. During the weekend there will be thought-provoking panel discussions, workshops and speakers, as well as book signings by the authors among us, and perhaps some live entertainment. On Sunday the Reunion will close with a service and a message that hopefully will inspire us to continue to make a difference in our communities. At the conclusion of the weekend’s activities, there will be an opportunity for those interested to return to the counties where they worked in 1965.
We are all getting older, my friends, and this may be our last chance to get together. So let’s do it right and meet in Atlanta in October!