April 11, 1965: Should we be in Selma?

Below is an excerpt from the Grouch, a student publication directed by Residential Advisors, and now part of University Archives.  The article engages the racism in St. Louis, and questions what methods would be best in order to fight that racism.

April 11, 1965

Should we be in Selma?

By Mike Lund

For the past decade and a half self-righteous Northern Civil Rights exponents have been pouring into the South screaming at civil indignities, flagrant denials of the morality of freedom and equality, and open prejudice. These evils certainly exist in the South. Yet can the North truly claim to be innocent of the accusations it levels on the South?

Can it be said that the Negro in Harlem, or even the Negro in St. Louis has obtained equal opportunity with the white man? Can prejudice really be said to be confined to the South? I think not.

Yet Northerners, for example, students at Washington University, continue to penetrate the South, demanding immediate rights for Negroes which they may not yet have in the North. Is not the first duty of Northerners to fight for the cause of Civil Rights in their own home towns, instead of “waving the bloody shirt” at the South. Are not St. Louisians more responsible for programs like Kinloch or Inner-city than packing up in cars and converging on Selma?

And of course, opposing evils in Selma is much easier than opposing evils in one’s own city, where personal repercussions are more likely to be felt.

I am hardly saying that I approve of conditions in the South. They are so shocking that they seem grotesque in our image of twentieth century democracy. Yet, I find that I am not sure there is justification for Northerners, like WU students, to be running off to Selma when they could be combating similar problems of unequal opportunity on their own doorsteps.

Grouch, 1965

Image: Grouch, 1965: Cover of the issue in which the article was published


For more information on how St. Louis students and citizens were combating racism here in Missouri, consult University Archive collections:

Urban League of St. Louis Records http://lib-lslv133.wulib.wustl.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=532

American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri Records http://lib-lslv133.wulib.wustl.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=207

Black Manifesto Collection http://lib-lslv133.wulib.wustl.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=109

About the author

Miranda Rectenwald is Curator of Local History, Washington University Special Collections. More info.