Hilda Flowers: Mississippi Civil Right and Grassroots movements

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) focused on getting students involved in nonviolent civil rights and grassroots organizing. SNCC members assisted black voters in the rural South and help formed the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The SNCC members of Philadelphia faced daily harassment from local authorities who responded to white fears of black militancy and racial violence. In 1966, the SNCC office was raided by a heavily armed, eighty men force.  Headlines suggested that dynamite was found in the office and several arrest were made. In reality, dynamite was found at the apartment used by Young Militants, a group associated with NAACP not SNCC. The SNCC office of Philadelphia never recovered from the raid.

In 1963, Hilda became the administrative secretary for the Philadelphia chapter of SNCC. She supervised the office, gather volunteers, assisted with fundraising, and spoke at colleges and churches. According to this newsletter, Hilda left in 1964, meaning she was not in the office during the raid, yet she could have been for she began working on another project through SNCC.

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In 1964, Geraldine, Hilda’s daughter moved to Mississippi to work with SNCC in establishing educational programs for children. She co-founded the Mississippi institute for Early Childhood Education. Geraldine left Mississippi in 1966 and became director of the regional Training Office for Head Start Programs at New York University.

Hilda moved to Mississippi in 1966 to continued her daughter’s work. Talk about a good mother. She worked as a trainer for the Poor People’s Corporation and worked for Friends of Children of Mississippi. In Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazer and Torchbearers, 1941-1945 by Vicki L. Crawford and others, Hilda wrote in her diary,

The ladies of the sewing group arrived at 9:30 am ready to learn and work, about ten of them. A great group. We talked about organizing a business, what has to go into it. That, and how much they were willing to order to make that grow. They are determined to learn cutting. They are determined to learn to sew. They set up machines; they practice sewing straight seams, cutting to save cloth’s quality. A very good day…These ladies are fast learners; they only need the opportunity, that’s all. “

This is from her diary at the Mississippi Archives. I cannot wait to visit.

She served as a Parent Involvement Coordinator and was a member of the advisory board for the Mississippi Institute for Early Childhood Education resigning in 1973. She also owned a small business, Clifford’s House of Gifts and was a member of the Business and Professional Club, her big sis Rachel was also a member in Philly.

Well, until the next post.

 

CJT

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