Friday, January 14, 2011

Dartmouth Students Arrested in Alabama

A newspaper article with the title "Students Arrested Again in Alabama King Pledges to Aid Cause from Jail
In Martin Luther King's May 22, 1962 address to the Dartmouth Community, he made a call to action for leadership from religious institutions. It was his assertion that, "It is one thing to rise up with righteous indignation when the Negro is lynched in Mississippi, or when a bus of Freedom Riders is burned in Anniston, Alabama. But a white person of goodwill in the North must rise up with as much righteous indignation when the Negro cannot live in his neighborhood simply because he's a Negro; or when a Negro cannot get a position in his particular firm; or when a Negro cannot join his particular fraternity; cannot join a particular academic society."

Among the many Dartmouth students who heeded King's call were John Liutkus '65 and Roger Daly '67. In the winter of 1965, Liutkus and Daly worked with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in voter registration drives in Selma, Alabama, during which time they were both arrested and jailed. Liutkus wrote to the Rev. George Kalbfleisch, Director of Undergraduate Religious Life at the College, on January 25, 1965, with the details of a march on the courthouse to deliver an injunction that would prohibit the Selma sheriff from "intimidating and arresting voters." He expressed the difficulties he encountered in his role as leader, noting that, "You are not only responsible for yourself, but also all the people who are looking to you for leadership. You have to make decisions that affect dozens, and even hundreds of people. What you say or do may result in people getting beaten and there would be no way of helping them." He went on to say that he would likely be in jail again before Rev. Kalbfleisch received the letter, a prediction that came true less than a week later.

The Dartmouth followed Liutkus and Daly's activity heavily in late January and early February of 1965, featuring statements from the men on their condition and the circumstances surrounding them as well as an excerpt from one of Liutkus' letters to Rev. Kalbfleisch. Liutkus' work with SNCC was part of a year-long leave of absence that would end in September of 1965.

Posted for Jessica Krug '11

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