FIRST CHRISTMAS IN PRISON
The heavy tires hummed monotonously as the small faded green pick-up truck climbed yet another hill covered with scrub pines and the naked branches of other unidentifiable growth. Patches of snow clinging to the rock studded soil reminded me of the cold outside of my window. So this was what Virginia looked like in the winter!
It was 1950 and ten days before Christmas. I was on my way to prison. The driver kept his squinted eyes on the two-lane blacktop highway and maintained a religious silence. I glanced at the gun holstered at his side, partially covered by his stomach that flowed over the top of his belt. I had given up trying to start a conversation with this man who was “just doing his job” and appeared to be not very happy about it. “Perhaps he doesn’t even know how to be happy,” I said to myself. I glanced at my watch. Only Forty-seven minutes had passed since I was picked up in Richmond. I closed my eyes and tried to make sense of my situation.
I shuddered as I felt once again the shame and guilt that hit me when I first saw the signs over the water fountains in the bus station: “WHITES ONLY” and “COLORED”. Similar signs were also on the battered bathroom doors. It just was not right!
I was startled into the present when the driver broke the rule of silence and said, “There’s the Men's Prison. The hounds that I use to catch the escapees are back in there. Those smart dogs find them every time.” He chuckled and smiled as if he had just related a dirty joke.
“Oh,” was all I could say. I was afraid to say anything more. The silence settled over us once again.
Shortly, the driver turned his truck into a driveway leading into well-kept grounds wrapped by a low white rail fence. There was no gate. It looked very much like a college campus. Then I saw the sign: STATE INDUSTRIAL FARM FOR WOMEN at GOOCHLAND, VIRGINIA. This is where I was to stay. This is where I would be celebrating Christmas.
Fear of the unknown, as usual, usurped my power to remain calm and cool. I tried to regain control by telling myself that I was most fortunate to be here. I had already been informed that I would be living with about 400 women prisoners. I wondered if I would or should be afraid of them. Maybe not afraid of those in prison for minor things like forgery, shoplifting, prostitution, etc. Maybe I should be cautious of the women convicted for assault and battery, mayhem, and other vicious crimes. I wondered how I would react when I met my first murderess who was sentenced for life in prison.
It was only by living and working with the women prisoners and staff that I would get all the facts and information I needed to write the thesis for my three year Master’s Degree at Princeton Theological Seminary. I had chosen The Role Of A Chaplain in a Women’s Reformatory as my field of research.
Women had not been admitted to the Seminary until about six years before. No one had researched this field for women. It was exciting to be a feminist and activist in 1950. I realized I was going to open the door to a new field for women. I strongly believed that women belonged in women’s prisons as chaplains. I would prove it!
I unexpectedly was invited to visit the women's’ prisons in California, Florida and Virginia to do my research and to consider possible employment with them. I decided to go to Virginia, as I was anxious to meet Elizabeth Kates, the founder and director of the Virginia State Industrial Farm for Women. She was nationally known and respected as a leader in the field of corrections. There I would have the excellent opportunity to work with Chaplain Katherine Golbeck, one of two women prison chaplains in the United States. Chaplain Golbeck suggested that I come during my Christmas vacation. I would be involved in a variety of activities that would allow me to participate in the duties of the chaplain.
George, the guard who picked me up in Richmond, dropped me off at the Staff House. Chaplain Golbeck, a slight, frail middle-aged woman, greeted me warmly and showed me to my room. “I am so glad that you were able to come at Christmas. I sure can use your help. This is my busiest time of the year,” she said.
commercial sewing machines. They made all the uniforms for the police and guards throughout Virginia. A very select group of long-timers were trained to weave on large looms. They produced beautiful place mats, table runners, drapes and bedspreads.
The prison grapevine proved to be a faster and effective means of communication. By the following morning everyone knew who I was and why I had come. In the Staff Dining Room, Kay Golbeck introduced me to the nurse, a school teacher and one of the prison matrons. As we ate our hearty breakfast, including homemade bread and rolls, several of the matrons approached Kay with requests from girls who wanted to talk with her. I glanced at the notebook in which Kay recorded the requests and knew we would have a busy day and evening.
Our first stop was the Administration Building, where the offices of the superintendent, her assistant, the chaplain, conference room and post office were located. Staff members working in the post office were busy opening, reading, and inspecting all incoming and outgoing letters and packages. Two letters were given to Chaplain Golbeck to personally deliver. One carried the news of the death of a close family member, while the other was written by a ten year old who was very unhappy living with her aunt and uncle. She told her mother how she missed her and cried every night.
In her office, Kay read her mail which included a letter from one of the recent prison graduates who was now attending college. She expressed her gratitude for Kay’s help in getting her admitted to a small church-related college. She had also been awarded a scholarship. I helped Kay type and mimeograph samples of Christmas programs that could be used by the girls in all the cottages. She also prepared several articles for the prison newspaper where the girls were encouraged to submit their poetry and stories. Miss Kates came in and gave me a key which she hung over my neck. I felt very vulnerable carrying this key so visibly inasmuch as it opened every door in the prison.
We walked over to the Clinic located in Cottage 2, to visit the mother who had given birth to twins during the night. One baby was stillborn.
As there was snow on the ground and the soil was frozen, the nurse and Kay decided to have the baby taken to the Medical College. The alternative would have been to make a small wooden coffin, and bury the infant in the cemetery on the prison grounds. The mother, who appeared to be mildly retarded, did not seem concerned about either baby. Kay and I wondered what the future held for the surviving child. At the nursery, it was life as usual with the twenty infants and toddlers who had been born at the prison. These babies would remain here until their first birthday, receiving proper food, lots of love and the best of medical attention. Prison policy allowed the mothers weekly visits with their children at the clinic. This did not seem to allow sufficient time for bonding, but made the separation a little easier when the baby had to leave for outside placement with a relative or a foster home.
We gave the staff and girls who were working in the nursery a large box of baby gifts that had been sent by a church group in Richmond. One of the girls showed me the red Christmas stockings they were filling and decorating for each child. Kay also gave one of the mothers a pattern to make her daughter a warm wool coat out of the material from one of her skirts. Her child was living with relatives until the mother’s release in another year. This was the first time that I thought of all of the thousands of children whose mothers or fathers were serving time in the jails and prisons across our country. Christmas certainly could not be a season of joy for them.
The steps to the basement led to the maximum security cells. There were four such cells. Three were presently occupied. Each cell was a room within a room. The outer room was made of heavy concrete and sealed with a heavy metal door. Near the top of the door was a small window reinforced with wire mesh, which provided a safe view of the inner cell. This inner room had bars and a barred door across one side. The cell contained only a toilet without the familiar toilet seat and a built-in single bed. This was necessary for the protection and safety of the prisoner and staff.
The prisoner could not have anything that she could use as a weapon. Ellie, a mentally disturbed Colored girl, had been confined to this cell for over two years. She was friendly to us at the time I was introduced.
Ellie showed me the Christmas pictures she had drawn, colored and hung on her concrete walls with tape. A scraggly Christmas tree in need of additional decorations stood outside the bars of her cell. She invited me to come back and help her trim the tree which had been carefully placed beyond her reach. I thought she looked to be friendly and sane. I was later informed that without warning, Ellie frequently became combative and destructive. She would scream and yell profanities that could be heard in the nearby buildings.
The next cell was wide open and already decorated with Christmas cards and ornaments. I met Alice who preferred to live there as she felt it was really more peaceful and quiet, in spite of the occasional outbursts by Ellie. Alice also loved being close to the babies upstairs in the Nursery. She had been assigned to work in the Clinic and Nursery for the past seven years.
Kay unlocked the solid iron door and entered the inner room. Betty, a White girl, was lying on her bed behind the bars. I noticed that her food tray, which had been pushed under her door, had not been touched. Her face was swollen and she was crying. Betty had tried to escape three days ago but was found hiding in the woods not very far from the prison by the bloodhounds. She became deeply depressed when she learned that because she escaped and was found outside of the prison grounds, she would have another year added to her sentence. We listened attentively to her story without comment. Betty sobbed, “Oh God! I’m so scared that all of my three small children will forget all about me by the time I get out!” We promised to bring her special Christmas cards and write a letter for her to each of her children. Betty was one of the forty-two illiterates at the prison who were unable to even write their own names.
In checking the office records, I learned that 142 girls had only finished the first, second or third grade. Ten of the girls had attended or graduated from a college. The girls at Goochland prison were able to attend school there and each year several earned their high school diplomas. A graduation was held and the graduates wore the traditional caps and gowns. In one of the prison classrooms I met Elsie, a college graduate, an alcoholic and a retired high school teacher. Elsie was serving a long sentence as a repeat forgery offender. Upon her release she immediately again began to write forged checks. Kay said that Elsie was glad to be back at Goochland. “She feels important here as she helps our teachers by tutoring the girls. Elsie is trusted to travel on the grounds of the Farm unescorted,” explained Kay. “We don’t consider her an escape risk as she really doesn’t have anyone to run away to in the outside world. This is her home now and here is where she is happy.”
Before lunch we had time to stop at Cottage 4 to give the matron, Mrs. Anderson, the Christmas music she requested for the Christian Endeavor meeting on Sunday night. This two-story cottage was really built like a college dormitory with forty single rooms on each floor as well as dining rooms. I was surprised to see the large bathroom through the large window which gave one an unobstructed view of all the toilets and showers. This lack of privacy, I was informed, was to reduce the possibilities of rape and consenting sexual encounters. Homosexual relationships, although discouraged, were most obvious. Mrs. Anderson admitted, “Most prison fights are started by a jealous ‘butch’ when a new prisoner tried to win over her girlfriend. This was just not tolerated by the girls.” I was to later learn that even among the staff there was that tendency for Lesbian relationships.
When I looked into the rooms of the Colored girls in Cottage Four, I was amazed how much they looked like the dorm room of any college. Many had made matching bedspreads and curtains using lovely floral prints. They made clever use of pictures and plants and even stuffed animals to make their rooms look homey. The windows did not have bars on them but security was insured by the use of small panes of heavy glass set in wide strips of metal. The doors were solid iron with a small window at eye level allowing the matron to check on the occupant. These doors were unique as they did not have the typical doorknobs but each one had a pull handle only on the outside. Once the girls were locked in they could not open the doors. They could not even be let out to use the toilets. Instead, each girl was provided with a big pot or pail with a lid, which they could use if so needed between 9 pm and 6 am. When the matron finished unlocking each door in the morning, the girls would stand by their doors and at the given order, they would march to the bathroom to empty the pots. This was jovially referred to as the “bucket brigade”.
We then went to the White girls’ side of the prison to deliver some used Christmas cards; donated by a group in Richmond. In Cottage 5, I was delighted with the resourcefulness and talent of the girls who had decorated their dining room area. It looked like Christmas! Christmas would be the saddest day of the year for the girls, so everything was being done to make the surroundings as cheerful as possible. Trees were up and decorated with popcorn and colored paper chains. Homemade ornaments were added daily. Christmas music played in the background. Presents for the girls continued to come in from families, churches and women’s groups in the cities. Kay knew which girls never heard from their families, so as she unpacked the boxes, she put aside especially nice gifts for them. The entire staff worked hard to insure a Merry Christmas for every girl.
That evening a rehearsal was held in the Auditorium for the choirs which would be providing the music at the Christmas Day church service and at the traditional Christmas pageant. The Colored girls were picked up by the guard in his pick-up truck. About twenty girls piled into the open bed of the truck. They began to sing as they slowly made their way up to the Auditorium which was located in the Whites section. I gathered the White choirgirls, lined them up in single file and assumed my position at the back of the line, as instructed, in order to keep a better watch on them. Nervously I followed, not sure what I would do if any of the girls decided to break away and run. Francie, the last girl in line, sensing my nervousness said, “Don’t worry. Nobody is going to run at night. We are all scared of the snakes and wild animals in the woods, especially when we can’t see them in the dark.” Francie also informed me that the girls would first put lots of pepper in their shoes if they planned to run. They felt the pepper would keep the bloodhounds from following their scent.
Tonight the stars were bright in the dark sky and the air was cold as the wind blew across the snow in the nearby fields. It was a relief to finally get all my girls into the bright and warm room. As the Colored girls took their seats on one side of the choir pit, the White girls sat on the other side. Quietly, some of the Whites and Colored exchanged greetings with friendly smiles. Soon the glorious music of Christmas filled the hall as Whites and Colored sang together as one great choir. The beauty of the voices coming from the magically transformed angelic faces moved me. I had never heard any song sung so beautifully. It was the holy message of Christmas, coming from this most unlikely place, to tell the world about love, peace and brotherhood.
My Christmas vacation days were passing much too quickly for me. I looked forward to each new day and the things I would experience and learn from the staff and the girls. I had never imagined that I would have to play “detective”. It was strongly suspected that the giggling and exuberant girls in Cottage 1 were enjoying “Gooch Hooch” in anticipation of the holidays. I was pressed into service to search the premises of Cottage 1 to find the “joy juice” that was the source of their happy holiday spirit. The girls who worked in the kitchen and bakeries had successfully smuggled potato peelings, sugar, raisins and yeast out to their Cottage. There they secretly mixed their prized ingredients with water and poured the mixture into an assortment of jars that they had saved. Making sure that the tops were on tight, they then hid all the precious jars in secret places that were warm enough to properly cause the contents to ferment. After a period of time, when it was determined that the brew was ready, the party would begin.
Despite its putrid smell, it was drunk with great delight. Most of the girls tried to be moderate in their consumption of this home brew, but one or two managed to get drunk. As this was an annual event, staff was most suspicious. For me, it turned out to be more fun than an Easter Egg Hunt, searching for this illicit whiskey. Staff and I looked under every mattress, searched under the tables, felt the pillows, went through every inch of every closet, looked behind the dressers and in every drawer. Sometimes we felt we had found a great treasure as we pulled out a jar of malodorous milky-looking hooch. In the bathroom I noticed the toilets had big wooden tanks positioned over them. I pulled the chain hanging from the first tank. As the toilet flushed, a strange noise emanated from above that called for a closer inspection. I got up on the toilet seat and reached gingerly into the tank above. My fingers explored the unseen waters until I felt a smooth round object. It was floating serenely on the top. Cautiously I lifted it out and saw that it was a jar half full of the prized hooch. I thought I was smart to discover evidence in such an unlikely place. A staff member informed me in a very matter of fact manner that the toilet tank was a favorite hiding place for Gooch Hooch.
It was finally time for the dress rehearsal of the Christmas pageant in which the Whites and the Colored were permitted to participate together. Costumes had been creatively assembled for all the characters in the traditional Christmas story. The three wise men, also known as Kings, had the most elaborate costumes. They wore paper gold crowns adorned with glass jewels and carried beautiful gifts for the Babe in the manger. To get a part in the pageant, a girl was required to have a good record of behavior at her work place and in her cottage. This was difficult for some of the girls with quick tempers.
Magnolia, to her great joy, was selected to play the part of the First Wise Man. Magnolia was one of the most likable of the Colored girls in Cottage 4. She was a large woman, shy and quiet. But she did have a temper which in the past she frequently lost when teased by the other girls. Determined to get a part in the 1950 Christmas pageant, she ignored the teasing and developed a loving smile. Magnolia was serving a life sentence for murder. In reading her file, I learned that a spurned stubborn boyfriend, who repeatedly abused her, foolishly returned to Magnolia’s farm with the expectation of a sexual encounter. He became her victim. Angered at his drunken advances, Magnolia stabbed him to death. Not knowing what to do with his body, she cut him up and fed him to her pigs. As I looked at Magnolia proceeding regally down the aisle to the manger, I saw her as true royalty. This undoubtedly was the proudest moment in her life.
There is so much to do when you get to spend the holidays with your family of four hundred. There are so many more presents to wrap, cards to send, joys to share and tears to shed. Christmas had finally arrived and so did Santa. We started at five in the early morning gathering the Catholic girls for Christmas Mass. Later in the day were the Christmas church service and pageant for which we had rehearsed for days. Everything went as planned. Even the little lambs brought in from the farm for the pageant behaved and played their roles well. Festive and grand Christmas dinners were served at the Staff House and all the cottages. Gifts were distributed and opened with glee and tears of happiness. Spirits were high as the excitement of the day grew to a close.
The Colored girls in Cottage 4 had invited me to their cottage for their own traditional service. Their matron, Mrs. Anderson, was a motherly white Southern widow, loved and respected by all the girls. Mrs., Anderson listened to their problems, and knew each girl as special to her. That night, as I walked in the crisp night air to the Cottage, I felt most humble. I had been asked to be Mary in their Nativity scene. I was afraid to ask Mrs. Anderson why they had chosen me. I wondered if it was because I was white and they had never seen a black Mary portrayed in the Christmas cards with the traditional manger scenes. Perhaps they thought I was a virgin and thus the only one among them appropriate to play the part of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of Jesus. For whatever reason they had asked me, it was not important. As the Virgin Mary, that Christmas night was the happiest and most inspiring of all of my prison experiences.
I was completely enthralled by the spiritual radiance created and brought to life in that prison room. I heard the divine voices of women singing the Christmas hymns and their very own spirituals, with the same sadness as their great grandparents had first sung them as slaves. Without music or the accompaniment of any instrument, one of the girls began a song. On perfect pitch, she soulfully sang the first line. All the others in beautiful harmony repeated that line. Then the second and each line thereafter sung by the soloist was followed by the rest of the choir of voices. The song continued to build in this traditional manner into the most glorious and heavenly proclamation of faith.
Looking at the faces before me, I knew that their spirits were free and far from these prison walls. Their faces reflected the suffering faces of the slaves who had also sought and dreamed of freedom so many years ago. Tears flowed down my face as I thanked God for bringing me to this place and allowing me to be a part of their magnificent Christmas offering. I have often wished that I could have recorded that Christmas night when the angels, slaves, and prisoners sang. I still can faintly hear in my memory, as I close my eyes, those hauntingly beautiful words and voices. The true meaning of Christmas, for me, is not found in tinsel, bells and packages, but in the voices of those who can still sing songs of praise as they continue to believe there is hope for a new beginning that will come when they are truly free.
I hated to think that I would have to leave Goochland in a few days and return to the company of scholars at Princeton. It was going to be difficult to say good-by to the staff and especially to the girls who had accepted me a friend. However I would be returning in June, right after my graduation. Miss Kates had created the position of Recreation Officer for me so that I could work in the programs and assist Chaplain Golbeck with her many duties. Kay was in great pain most of the time from a back injury. I knew that while helping her, I would continue to learn so much more. I was eagerly looking forward to going back to prison.
Several days before I left, Miss Kates asked me to transport Mary to her new job in Richmond. Mary had been paroled after serving twenty years for murder. She was typical of the women who had been sent to Goochland for murder. I found these women to be among my best and trusted friends. They had no previous records of arrests. Mary’s crime, as most of the others, was committed in a rage of passion and after years of abuse.
Mary came home one night after a hard and long day’s work as a domestic servant. She wearily climbed the stairs of her front porch and went into the kitchen where she dropped off the heavy bags of groceries that she had carried for many miles. She heard groaning noises coming from behind the faded floral curtain which separated her bed from the small living room. Cautiously she pulled back the curtain and stepped back when she saw her husband lying naked with a woman. He sat up and yelled, “You son of a bitchin’ woman. Get out of here! When I get finished, I ‘m going to kill you!” He then rolled back on top of the strange woman in Mary’s bed.
This was not the first time this had happened. Mary was terrified. Her husband was mean, especially after he had been drinking all day. Mary remembered the pain and shame of the beatings he had given her. She could not take his cruel words and painful blows anymore. Mary went into the kitchen and got his gun, which was in the drawer under the table. She walked softly towards the bedroom curtain, pulled it aside and shot him right there on the bed.
“That woman jumped out of my bed, grabbed my good bedspread, and was out the door as fast as lightning. My no good husband was dead and I was glad.” Mary told me all about it as we drove the thirty miles to Richmond. She was going to the home of a friend of Miss Kates to work as a live-in maid. Mary had been doing that kind of work for years for Miss Kates at the prison. She was going to her new job on the outside with the highest of recommendations.
Mary looked into her purse and placed her hand on a small roll of money. It was her release money that she had accumulated over the past twenty years. The girls were all paid fifteen cents a day for the work they did at the prison. Ten cents of their daily pay was put into their savings account until they were released. The other five cents went into their credit account that they could spend at the inmates’ store. There they could buy candy, cigarettes, and personal items not provided by the prison. Mary hesitantly asked me if I could possibly first take her to a department store, as she really would like to buy herself a few things. I was more than happy to oblige. I felt that I was taking Rip Van Winkle into town after he had awakened from his years of sleep. Mary had been locked up and away from civilization for twenty years. So much had changed from 1930 to 1950. She felt frightened seeing all the speeding cars in the city. There were crowds of people taking advantage of all the after-Christmas sales. Mary asked, “What are all those funny posts sticking up all along the sidewalk?”
I replied, “They are called parking meters. When I find an empty spot near the store to park, I will have to put nickels and dimes in the meter to pay for parking there for one or two hours.” Mary did not even try to understand this new and crazy concept.
In the large department store, Mary stopped and stared at the people she saw in front of her. She could not believe what she was seeing. People were standing still but yet they were going up and up. She then saw another file of people that kept coming out of the ceiling and moving down slowly towards her. I explained to her that this was called an escalator and you got on one step and instead of climbing the stairs, you stood still and the stairs moved you. I asked if she would like to ride on the escalator. She nodded and followed me. She cautiously stepped on the first metal grate that magically turned into a step right under her feet. She grabbed on to the rail that was also moving up with her. I told her to be ready to jump off before her step disappeared under the floor. The look on Mary’s face, a combination of wonder and pleasure, beautifully revealed how proud she was of her first and successful ride on an escalator.
Mary whispered, “I would like to buy some new underwear, please.” I led her to the lingerie section and stood back watching her as she carefully made her selection. Her fingers caressed the smooth blue satin panties trimmed with lace. She then found a matching bra. How she must have longed for soft silky underwear after having to wear the prison issued cotton under her uniform for the past twenty years. I wondered what I would have chosen to buy for my first purchase. The sales lady rang up the sale and told Mary the bill came to $3.18, which included tax. Of course Mary did not know what “tax” was but she proceeded to take out a ten dollar bill and hand it to the sales clerk who had no idea of the historic action in which she was a participant.
As Mary held the change given to her, I realized that she had not handled real money for twenty years and did not know how to count her change. I held her hand and counted out loud the value of each coin and paper currency. “Thank you, kindly,” she said in a low voice as she carefully put her change into her purse. “Can we ride on the moving steps again?”
As we walked along the crowded sidewalk, Mary, tightly clutching her precious bag and purse, took in the magnificent Christmas displays that still remained in the store windows. What a beautiful and wondrous world she had missed. Mary was frightened but tried not to show it. City life moved so much faster. Cars speeded and people seemed to be in a big hurry. Mary tried to keep from bumping into anyone. I think she was quite relieved when we finally were back in the car. I took out the map of Richmond and found the place that was to be Mary’s new home. I drove slowly so that Mary could see more of the city and the people that lived in it.
We arrived at the address. It was a lovely house in a very nice neighborhood. I rang the doorbell. The door was opened by a gracious woman who warmly welcomed us into her home. Mrs. Lewis had met Mary several times before when she visited her friend, Elizabeth Kates at the State Farm for Women. She took Mary to her room, which was small but decorated with a happy theme of bright colors and flowers. Best of all, there were no bars or heavy metal on her windows and there were knobs on both sides of her door. Now Mary had the freedom to chose when to open or lock her door. I thought how much I always took for granted the many little things that were not available to so many people around the world who lived without freedom.
I wanted to give Mary a big hug when we said good-by, but I remembered that nice Whites don’t ever do that with Colored girls. So I waved and wished her good luck. As I drove away, I wondered if Mary would continue to make a prison for herself in Mrs. Lewis’ home, or if she would ever have the courage to venture out into the outside in this all white neighborhood.
I wondered about myself, too. Why was I afraid to give Mary a hug when I felt that is what I wanted to do? How long could I could I go along with the prison policy and Southern rules of separating the Whites from the Colored, when I knew it was terribly wrong?
I returned to The State Industrial Farm for Women at Goochland, Virginia, after graduation in June of 1951. I worked there as Recreation Officer and provided assistance to Chaplain Katherine Golbeck. I hated the rules that I had to have one baseball league for the Whites and one for the Colored. They were not even allowed to play against each other. I had to plan and schedule the Halloween dance and party on one night for the Whites and one for the Colored on the following night. I could dance with any White, but when I asked one of the Colored girls to teach me how to jitterbug, I was reprimanded and warned that this was not acceptable behavior. I was also told that I was never to mention again that I worked as a waitress to earn money to get through college. “Nice White girls do not work as waitresses. That is a job for the Colored or White trash ‘hores!”
This is what I experienced in 1950 and ‘51. How could I teach about God’s love for all His children and keep the girls separated. The truth is that we are all sisters regardless of the color of our skin. I regretfully realized that I was powerless to make changes in a prison in the South. I decided to take a job in a church in the northern part of New York State. Perhaps there the people would listen and we all would work together to eliminate discrimination against the Blacks, women, the poor, and all people in the family of God.
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