Thursday, January 26, 2012


If you know of people or groups who might benefit from this, please send it around.  In the last several weeks, there've been a number of explicit indications of interest in effective and enduring community organizing.  For years, I've had a long website page which discusses the art -- and it is an art -- of bona fide organizing.  What follows is one part of that page -- its basic essence.  And I give the Link to the full "course."  I posted this in a number of quarters where interest is apparent, even high, and I'm now shooting it off in your direction with the hope that you can further its reach to any actively or potentially interested persons you may know.  It is likely that, at some point, I'll expand this into a trenchant print entity of some sort.  Until then, however, this extensive page does offer a good deal of down-to-earth, brass-tacks guidance.  In other sections of our website, I have specific discussions of our various activist campaigns over several turbulent decades.
In Solidarity,
Hunter or John
The time for effective community organizing is obviously NOW.  This substantial excerpt from our very full page should be helpful.  The full course is,

1] Invitations to the Organizer from the grassroots -- spontaneous and
wrangled.  Some can come to one's own sponsoring organization; some can
come directly to you if you are reasonably well known; or you can arrange
an invitation.

2] Issues: Some are readily apparent, some not always apparent -- e.g.,
economic relationships; some are immediately realistic with work and some
are futuristic; some are frankly unrealistic in the foreseeable future.

3]  Planning philosophies: Top Down, vs Basic Grassroots Up [my preference].

Set forth general overall goals, long-range specific, short range specific. Heavy grassroots involvement here is always critical.

4] Credibility of project:  Should be made up and led primarily by the
people for whose benefit it is launched: e.g., "those of the fewest
alternatives."  Careful delineation and evaluation of active and potential
leaders is obviously critical. And often things start out with a steering
committee of leaders and then, after the organization has grown and more
people are actively involved, elections of regular officers.

5] Some people may want to move too fast and others too slowly. The
Organizer helps develop the group's tempo and assists grassroots leaders
and people in meeting those expectations.

6]  Direct action:  Always know First Amendment and related rights.
Picketing, sit-ins, boycotts, mass marches are extremely useful.  And
there is always a need for careful organization and tactical nonviolence.
Direct action should be accompanied by judicious media coverage.

7]  Media use:  Has to be used carefully: national wire services; local
television, often with national hookups; local radio; local and regional
press; specialized press;  news releases -- who, what, when, where, why and how; press conferences; leaflets with ALL pertinent information; newsletters; community newspapers; community cable TV; Internet.  There is always a need for constantly updated media/contact lists.

8] Lawyers and litigation:  Defensive and aggressive legal actions --
"criminal" and civil; local volunteers; paid lawyers; national
organizational attorneys -- e.g., ACLU, Lawyers Guild, Native American
Rights Fund.  Some non-in-court matters can be handled very effectively by good law students.

9]  Possible allies and political action:  National organizations; and
government agencies [be careful]; political -- informal approaches and
quiet contacts; formal approaches and lobbying and direct requests;
electoral [voting].  DON'T GET CO-OPTED.

10]  Power structure analysis:  Check out Moody's industrials and
Standard and Poor's; and check out lawyers and their big business
connections in Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and see FindLaw.
Also see firms in U.S. Lawyer's Directory. City Directory will frequently
give the official occupation of people. See corporate profit and not for
profit charters at the state secretary of state's office and check out
annual registration of organizations from state attorney general or sometimes secretary of state. Data on charitable organizations can be found at state attorney general's office and county tax assessor.  There are also various national and regional Who's Who and IRS and U.S. Government Organization Manual and Congressional Directory. DON'T NEGLECT HELPFUL NON-OFFICIAL GOSSIP.

11]  Coalitions [tend to be long term] and alliances [often shorter term]
are sometimes beneficial and sometimes not.  Consider all of this
carefully and try to avoid precipitous marriages.

12]  Although no Organizer -- whether from the "outside" or the "inside" --
will ever have full consensus from the community, he or she must avoid the
temptation to be a "Lone Ranger."  That role can be temporarily justified
only in cases of extreme grassroots fear or heavy factionalism.
[Hunter Bear]


[Published in the Spring 2004 issue of Independent Politics News And
Published In Oregon Socialist, Winter/Spring 2004 -- and much more.]

I'm an Organizer, a damn good one. I get and keep people together for
social justice action. I've been an Organizer for virtually half a
century -- all over much of what's called the United States. [I've also
been, among other things, a fur trapper, forest fire fighter, soldier,
prospector, metal [development] miner, minority hiring and training
consultant, college/university professor, writer.]

But my vocation is Organizer. I've done it full time for many years indeed.
And then, in conjunction with other jobs, I've always continued to
organize, somewhere and somehow.

What follows here is my essentially outline conception of the
characteristics and qualities of a good and effective Organizer who is
genuinely on the grassroots job. That can be a union local; a temporary
single-issue effort; permanent single-issue; permanent multi-issue;
coalition. It can sometimes be a specialized service center -- which itself
some way grows out of a community organization. A Movement is a transcendent widespread feeling, visionary, fueled by many local organizational efforts -- and it, in turn, inspires many local efforts.

Assembling my scattered notes on the matter a few days ago, I spent some
very early morning hours today [I rise about 3:30 am] sketching this out on
one of my traditional yellow tablets.


1] The Organizer should be at least bright -- alert and sparky. And
hopefully, be intelligent in a depthy and lofty sense -- which characterizes
most organizers who really stick with it over the long pull.

2] The Organizer should be relatively "pure" in the moral sense. But not
too pure -- because no one, anywhere, wants a sanctimonious conscience
hovering about. Set a good personal example. Do your recreational thing
away from the project. Wherever you are, avoid all drugs and go easy on
alcohol [if you are even into that sensitivity-dulling stuff.] Remember the
old labor adage: "You can't fight booze and the boss at the same time."
Always a special target, the organizer has to be aware of the consistent
danger of frame-ups.

3] The Organizer has to be a person who is thoroughly ethical  and
honorable. Among other things, this means fiscal honesty [as soon as
possible and whenever feasible, a local committee made up of grassroots
people should handle the financial end of things]. And it also means
avoiding any hint of co-optation by the Adversary. The Organizer should
always have at least a representative group of the grassroots people present when meeting with the Other Side -- unless local people clearly approve a unilateral approach.

4] Formal academic training in the higher ed sense can certainly be useful
to any Organizer [or, as far as that goes, for anyone] -- but it isn't
absolutely critical. The Organizer, among other attributes, should be fully
literate [including computer literate], with finely tuned sensitivities,
with one hell of a lot of good sense. And almost anyone can do much

Race and social class factors are not usually critical for a good
Organizer. [I'm a Native American who has worked comfortably with Indians of many tribes, Chicanos, Southern and Northern Blacks, Puerto Ricans, low-income Anglos. I've also never pretended to have proletarian origins.]

In a word, be sensitive -- but be yourself.

5] The Organizer absolutely has to be a person who can communicate clearly and well. Often, this can mean teaching -- without necessarily appearing to do so [many people really don't like a teacher.]
And communication, of course, involves one - to - one on a face - to - face
basis, e-mail, phone calls, news announcements and press conferences, mass meetings -- and much more indeed. It can also involve an Organizer helping people with their own unique individual/family problems. And that can help not only the person but will strengthen the overall effort.

6] The good Organizer will have some sort of altruistic ideology: couched
as an integrated, cogent set of beliefs embodying goals and tactics. After
that, there are several choices:

A] The Organizer can be passive; and the grassroots people can be
the ones who make the goals and the tactics. Not so hot.

B] The Organizer can impose a specific ideology -- including
goals and tactics. Not so hot, either.

C] The Organizer can convey a general ideological perspective
which the grassroots people can take or not take. They are not going to
want to feel pushed or hammered into things, but they'll usually take it --
especially if it's sensibly and sensitively "sold". They certainly may want
some time -- and should have it -- to think it all over. And, soon enough,
together the organizer and the people can develop solid goals and  effective tactics. Remember, the organizer brings gifts and élan -- and the grassroots provides at least most of the reality.

7] The Organizer must have a genuinely powerful and enduring commitment. This has to involve a deep belief -- a very real belief -- in the People and the Cause. The Organizer has to be able to recognize potential
leaders -- and to involve all of the people. Virtually everyone has
something of substantial significance to contribute. The organizer gives
ideas -- but it's ultimately up to the people whom the organizer should
never manipulate. Bona fide organizing [not service center stuff] is about
the hardest work there is. A good Organizer is literally wedded to the
campaign all the way through.

8] The Organizer has to have a healthy but controllable ego -- with a
strong sense of destiny.

9] And any really healthy grassroots organizing campaign has to have a
Vision -- one that is two dimensional: Over The Mountain Yonder, and the
Day - To - Day needs. As I have indicated, a movement which, among other
things, is characterized by an idea whose time has come, is a broad-based
cause growing out of local community organizational efforts -- in turn
inspiring and stimulating new community-based thrusts. To become a bona fide movement, there absolutely has to be the two-dimensional ethos and active life. But the purely local effort has to have the same two dimensional
ingredients, whether it's part of a movement or by itself.

[Something with vision only can easily wind up a small, in-grown sect;
and something that's only day - to -day can become a tired service program. And when an organization has lost its way, factionalism is a sure thing along with the withdrawal of the local people.]

A good Organizer's role in all of this vision-building is extremely
critical -- especially at the outset. But it's also critical all the way
through in conjunction with the growing awareness of the grassroots people. The two-dimensional vision -- Over The Mountain and Day - To -Day -- is the shiny idea that makes people part of a crusade and sometimes a truly great one. It all gives meaning to life. And sometimes, if necessary, one will die for it. Each of these two dimensions stimulates and feeds the other. A good and truly effective Organizer absolutely has to show this

10] An Organizer definitely has to be a person with a tough hide -- not
deterred by cruel name-calling, physical beatings, or forced out of the game by injuring bullets or other bloody efforts. The organizer has to be a person of physical courage. And an Organizer also has to have the courage
to take unpopular stands within the developing grassroots effort.

11] And an Organizer cannot live materially in the pretentious sense.
Solidarity -- and also sacrifice!

Semper Fi -

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR] Micmac/St Francis Abenaki/St Regis Mohawk

In the mountains of Eastern Idaho



Missing -- way too often -- in radical and general social justice circles
and related settings is a willingness to get down into the grassroots and
engage systematically in some of the most challenging work there is:
organizing the grassroots into genuinely effective and enduring outfits.
That's Genesis in the Save the World Business. It's often far too easy to
engage in essentially empty "jaw-smithing." Fortunately, there are always
those -- Organizers and grassroots people -- who are willing to do the
really tedious and tough organizing work over the long pull. Those who are
reasonably experienced have their own particular approaches.

Here are my own basic ones:

These 17 essential organizing principles were created formally by me in
early September 1963, after what had already been a number of years of
successful social justice organizing -- and then modified and supplemented
a bit over many decades of grassroots organizing campaigns. Now I've
transcribed them yet again -- with some changes -- on December 25 2003.
They are part of a considerably larger work that I also wrote in September
1963 -- "Organizing the Community for Action." This was initially about six
tightly packed single-spaced legal size pages. I made several dozen
mimeographed copies and sent them around -- and they were well received. I continued to expand and polish up all of this and used "Organizing" and my following 17 component principles many, many dozens of times in organizing campaigns, including -- among other dimensions -- struggles, organizing staff and grassroots training capacities, conferences, and university classes. By this time, my little manual itself had grown to nine tightly packed and single-spaced legal size pages. Copies of all versions of "Organizing the Community for Action" are in my collected [Salter/Gray] papers at State Historical Society of Wisconsin and Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The basically full ones began in March, 1965 and August, 1966. In addition, I have copies of all of these editions of mine right here in Idaho.

I'm presently rewriting parts of "Organizing the Community for Action" --
streamlining and updating -- and we are right now discussing the 17
principles themselves here in the Pocatello region as we get set for some
anti-racist action.

The following applies primarily to organizing staff and broad-based
grassroots community organizations. But they can also apply
substantially -- with only a very few changes -- to other types of outfits:
e.g., local union organizations.

Anyway -

1] The Organizers should insure that the community organization is
significant in size and composed primarily, if not completely, of those
people "with the fewest alternatives".

2] The Organizers should insure that active and potential community
leadership is developed in such a fashion that the organization is led
primarily, if not completely, by those people with the fewest alternatives.

3] The Organizers should insure that the organization functions
democratically, and not in an authoritarian fashion and that, among other
things, formal rules of democratic procedure are established and followed
and that widespread grassroots participation and decision-making in the
affairs of the community organization is a continuing fact; and that there
is ever developing local leadership. The executive and public meetings
should be well attended and organizers must insure that an atmosphere exists in which the individual at the grassroots feels -- as is genuinely the case --that he/she is an individual; that his/her active participation in
the organization is needed and welcomed; that right from the very beginning, he/she can make their voice and presence felt within the organization; and that, as the group's endeavors advance, winning victories, his/her power and ability to affect those forces out in the problematic/crisis environment and beyond, which have been affecting his/her life, will be steadily and proportionately increased.

4] The Organizers should insure that the youth are involved in the affairs
of the community organization -- either within it and with leadership
participation, or in a parallel and cooperative youth group of their own.

5] The Organizers should insure that the community organization, right from the beginning, is characterized by maximum autonomy.

6] Although the initial formation of the community organization may be
around one paramount and pressing local issue, the Organizers -- not through rigid superimposition but through diplomatic and effective teaching -- should insure that, in the interests of the community organization's longevity and effectiveness, the leaders and membership of the group become aware of all issues directly and indirectly affecting them. The Organizers should insure, therefore, that the community organization functions on a multi-issue basis whenever possible.

7] The Organizers should insure that, prior to reaching a decision on a
particular course of action, the community organization is aware of all
relevant tactical approaches and the various ramifications of each.

8] The Organizers should insure that the leaders of the community
organization can effectively handle the matter of publicity.

9] The Organizers should insure that the community organization can
effectively handle the raising and administration of funds -- including,
when applicable, the preparation of funding proposals, the negotiation of
such, and the effective administration of the money received.

10] The Organizers should insure that the community organization becomes
connected with various relevant public and private agencies and is able to
negotiate and secure the necessary services from those agencies without
surrendering its autonomy or compromising its basic principles.

11] The Organizers should insure that the community organization is able
to function politically in a realistic and sophisticated fashion without
surrendering its autonomy or compromising its basic principles.
12] The organizers should insure that the community organization can
utilize the services of professionals without becoming dominated by such.

13] The Organizers should insure that the community organization is able
to enter into functional alliances with other groups without surrendering
its autonomy or compromising its basic principles.

14] The Organizers should insure that the community organization is aware
of the use of effective and rational protest demonstrations and, further,
that it is fully cognizant of the merits of tactical nonviolence.

15] The Organizers should insure that the community organization is aware
of the effective use of legal action approaches and is aware of public and
private legal resources.

16] The Organizers should build a sense of the oft-visionary and just
world of a full measure of bread-and butter and a full measure of
freedom -- and how all of this relates to the shorter term steps.

17] The Organizers, who at the outset may well play a very key role in the
function and affairs of the community organization, must, on a step-by-step
and essentially pragmatic basis, shift increasing responsibility to the
leaders and membership of the group, to eventually:

A] First, insure that the community organization can function effectively
with only occasional involvement by Organizers.

B] And then, that the community organization can function effectively
with no involvement by Organizers to the point that, in addition to
conducting its regular affairs, the group can "organize on its
own" --bringing in new constituents and/or assisting other grassroots people in adjoining areas in setting up and conducting their own community organizations.

I'm an Organizer -- a working social justice agitator. I've been one since
the mid-1950s and I'll always be one. In many respects, it's one of the
toughest trails anyone could ever blaze.

An effective Organizer seeks to get grassroots people together -- and does;
develops on-going and genuinely democratic local leadership; deals
effectively with grievances and individual/family concerns; works with the
people to achieve basic organizational goals and develop new ones; and
builds a sense of the New World To Come Over The Mountains Yonder -- and how all of that relates to the shorter term steps.

An effective Organizer has to be a person of integrity, courage, commitment.
And a person of solidarity and sacrifice.

The satisfactions are enormous.

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'
(much social justice material)

See the Stormy Adoption of an Indian Child [My Father]:

For the new, just out (11/2011) and expanded/updated
edition of my "Organizer's Book," JACKSON MISSISSIPPI --
with a new and substantial Introduction by me:

Personal Background Narrative (with many links):




sitin.jpg (667799 bytes)

Our Woolworth Sit-In, Jackson Mississippi, 5/28/63 was the most violently attacked sit-in of the '60s and the most publicized.   Involving a White mob of several hundred, it went on for several hours while hostile police from Jackson's huge all-White police department stood by approvingly outside and while hostile FBI agents inside (in sun-glasses) "observed."   Seated, left to right are Hunter Gray (John R. Salter, Jr.) -- Native American; Joan Trumpauer (now Mulholland), a White Southern student at our private Black college, Tougaloo College [one of two White students at Tougaloo]; Anne Moody, Black, from Wilkinson County, Mississippi.  I, Gray [Salter] was a very young Tougaloo professor; and Joan and Anne were my students.  All of us are covered with sugar, salt, mustard, and other slop.  I was beaten many times -- fists, brass knuckles, and a broken glass sugar container -- and am covered with blood. 

We have published -- on this page and the next -- three of the best photos of the sit-in.

This first photo is the most famous sit-in photo of the '60s -- frequently depicted over the decades in exhibits, television documentaries, books and magazines -- and has recently appeared in many "end of the Century" photo books [e.g., Life The Way We Were: Decades Of The Twentieth Century, Time Inc., 1999 -- where it is The civil rights photo in the book] and extensive narrative/photo discussions of the times [e.g., The American Century, by Harold Evans, Knopf, 1999], and many others.


The new enlarged and updated edition of my book, JACKSON MISSISSIPPI: AN AMERICAN CHRONICLE OF STRUGGLE AND SCHISM, is now fully available for purchase.  The publisher is Bison Books/University of
Nebraska Press.



The new enlarged and updated edition of my book, JACKSON MISSISSIPPI: AN AMERICAN CHRONICLE OF STRUGGLE AND SCHISM, is now fully available for purchase.  The publisher is Bison Books/University of
Nebraska Press.


The initial Introduction in the two earlier editions has been replaced by one written by me: "On The River Of No Return."  This is, in many ways,  a large, additional chapter [about 9500 words] which up-dates Mississippi, discusses our family's always interesting experiences since the first edition of JM appeared in 1979, and contains supplemental autobiographical material.  And, of course, it also contains something of my reflections as a life-long social justice organizer.

The dedication: 

For Eldri and the Family -- truly a Golden Horde

And in memory of Doris and Ben Allison and Medgar Wiley Evers

Thus this will likely be my basic autobiographical memoir.  As a corollary to that, however, I must say that my health is fine.

The University of Nebraska Press is one of the largest university presses in the country.

Here is their announcement of Jackson, Mississippi:  (Click on the photo and it'll get bigger.)

In Solidarity,

Hunter Bear (Hunter Gray / John R. Salter, Jr.)




Thanks very much indeed to Ernest Stevens, Jr. and NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association) for honoring Dr King and the four Native civil rights activists and leaders. I'm greatly pleased to be included in this group, some of whom I've met and with whom I've worked at various points.  Hunter Gray (John R Salter, Jr)


Thanks very much, Louis, for posting this and for your kind accompanying
comment.  It's a well known photo, appearing regularly over the decades --
mostly in the 'States but often abroad.   Here in Pocatello [and much
elsewhere as well] a well known high school history book carries it

This and other photos of the "situation"  involve a mostly youthful group of
vigorous physical critics -- at least at that moment, thugs -- but also
adult Klan types and, wearing dark classes, what we have always been sure
were FBI agents.  In the milling throng was Lucy Komisar, spending several
months with our Movement and the Mississippi Free Press [which a number of
us had launched late in '61], and now a well known journalist out of NYC.
[She is clearly seen in the background of another photo, one of several on
our large website.]

The hostile throng, inside and out, came to number several hundred at least.

I have always found it difficult to blame the kids in the mob -- at least
beyond a certain point.  One of the things I consistently did was to study
Deep South history, sociology, culture.  I knew where they were coming from
and that awareness, which convicts the Big Mules and their opportunistic
racist political allies, also makes it tough to be too hard on those kids.
Beba [John] in more recent times has been with me when we have had
interesting discussions in Mississippi with former adversaries.  In long
time, even former Gov. Ross R Barnett used to convey his regards and
sympathy through a mutual friend to "Professor Salter" --" 'way up there in
that awful North Dakota".  [Southerners of whatever ethnicity have been
consistently horrified by the N.D. winters.]

And then, of course, there are those to whom Rhett Butler's comment to
Scarlett certainly applies, "The Old Guard dies but it never surrenders."

Soon after the Brown deseg decision in '54, the white Citizens Council
movement -- middle and upper echelon class-wise -- began in Mississippi and,
quickly pervasive, captured the state with its clarion call, "States'
Rights, Racial Integrity."  It spread across the South, not always
pervasively, but in consistently sinister and influential fashion.  In due
course, among its many poisonous branches and leaves, was its "curriculum"
for the white grade schools.  In early years, kids were taught that "blue
birds play with blue birds only" and "chickens do not mix."  Quack nonsense
then explained this latter by indicating that, if one took 100 chickens, 50
of them white and the other 50 black, they would naturally segregate
themselves.  In lessons designed for the later grades, kids were told that
"[White] Southerners built America," "[White] Southerners are the true
patriots",  "Race-Mixers are Communists," "Race-Mixers want to destroy the
South and America."

And the products of that hideous catechism graced that Woolworth Store [and
many other battle lines] for hours on that fateful day, May 28, 1963, at

As Ever, H

(Our very full page on my book, Jackson Mississippi, plus some more on the Woolworth Sit In, can be found at )



These are two not-long blog posts from Loki Mulholland.  Loki, who lives in Utah, is the son of Joan Mulholland, well known for her role in the Freedom Rides and our Woolworth Sit-In at Jackson [and for many other good things.]  Loki is a quite accomplished film writer and director with several very good pieces of work to his credit.  He is presently working on a film, "An Ordinary Hero." based on his mother's most interesting career.  It's expected to emerge in 2013. 

A week ago, Loki and his good spouse, Shieleen, came here for a very pleasant visit.  It's not often that people from afar make it up here to us.  Admittedly, our life on this hill has become somewhat insular and, given some very hostile reactions to our existence here in Idaho, we are reasonably watchful and wary. [All of my several firearms are discreetly out of sight, however.]  We hadn't seen Loki for awhile but, although a few years can sometimes pass between direct visits,  good friends, upon meeting again, can always bridge that superficial chronology.  That certainly happened in this.  (H)

Sitting Down to Take a Stand

Sitting Down to Take a Stand

“Right there at my feet was Memphis Norman. They were kicking his head in.” The scene was still vivid for Bill Minor forty-eight years later as he retold part of the story.

The Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit-in… there were others before it but this one seemed to set the world on fire because of Fred Blackwell’s visceral photographs. You could almost hear the screams and taunts from the angry crowd as those at the counter seem to almost pay them no mind.

John, Joan and Anne… just sitting there and taking it.

John Salter (he would later change it to his ancestral name – Hunter Gray) is one of the coolest cats I know. He’s not a small guy. He’s tough as nails and could’ve taken any, if not all, of the mob. He had been through worse. Blood (from brass knuckles to the head) mixed with salt and ketchup run down his neck and shoulder.

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, her head turned possibly saying something to Anne, as someone is about to pour something else on her.

And Anne Moody looking tired and almost resigned to the fact that they just might not making it out of there alive.

This was just a snapshot, a moment in time and that’s how I, like many others, came to know of the sit-in. This photo was just one moment of three people trying to make life better. There were, I think, 13 people in all. When others were dragged out more came to take their place.

They volunteered for this. From what I understand, the mob was already there when Joan, John and others heard what was happening, came down, saw the mob and worked their way through so they could sit down and take their beatings. I always thought they came in, sat down and then the mob showed up (which did happen with the first wave of protestors) but no, this group had to work their way through the mob for the privilege of being attacked.

Joan was pulled by her hair and dragged out. She wrestled herself free and went back through the mob and sat back down at the counter. It went on for more than three hours.

This is what I know of my mom and the Civil Rights Movement. The other sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, death row at Parchman, the Klan threats, etc. are all relatively new to me. Maybe I heard the stories before and just didn’t remember them but the sit-in with its photographs… I remember.

Returning to Jackson, Mississippi for the Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary I was able to walk over to Capitol Street where Woolworth used to stand. It was torn down in the name of progress with some gleaming office built in its place. I was disappointed. I don’t know why I thought it would still be there or why I was hoping it would.

There’s no marker to tell you it was once there or what took place but it was there and it took place. Forty-eight years ago Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, along with others, knowingly risked their lives, voluntarily walked through an angry mob and sat down at a lunch counter to stand up for their fellow man.

Loki Mulholland – Writer/Director

(Read Anne Moody’s and John Salter’s books – “Coming of Age in Mississippi” and “Jackson, Mississippi”)

The Great Bear

The Great Bear

When John Salter, of Scottish and Native American ancestry, was 18 he shot his “coming-of-age” bear in the mountains of Arizona. It was a massive specimen that took six bullets to bring down. It wasn’t going to go down easy and definitely not without a fight. Only one of them was going to make it out of those mountains alive. I’m sure some of the Spirit of that animal passed to John because John truly is one of the great bears.

There are some people out there that no matter what they’re going to fight to the bitter end. They’re going to do whatever it takes to make certain they did all they could. You have to admire people like that. It takes a special kind of character to see things through and to never give in on what you know is right. Sometimes there’s a stubbornness to them that can be seen as almost irrational but when you truly understand that person you know it’s just who they are and you probably wouldn’t want them any other way. John Salter is one of those people.

My wife and I took the opportunity to see him and his wife, Eldri this weekend. Life got busy and too many years had passed but when I recently spoke with him on the phone I knew I had to pay him a visit. For several years John had Lupus. The operative word in that sentence is “had”. I guess, genetically, it will always be there but all his blood tests would say otherwise and his doctors couldn’t tell you why. And so we took off for Idaho to pay an old friend a visit.

I had hoped to interview John for the documentary because of his massive involvement in Jackson back in the 1960s but had written that off when I first realized I was going to do this in the Spring of last year but a few weeks ago I wrote a blog post mentioning John and felt impressed to call him. To my surprise he sounded like the old John, the one before Lupus, and I told him as much. He chuckled and said, “Well, didn’t your mother tell you?”

Back in the 90s, I had the privilege of spending a summer with John and Eldri when they were still in North Dakota. John was teaching at the University in Grand Forks and was very active in righting some injustices. He has a long history of that, dating back to his work fighting the mining companies. You spend enough time with someone and they’re bound to either grow on you or send you running in the other direction. We decided we liked each other.

And so, here I was with my wife in John and Eldri’s living room catching up on things when I asked John when he knew things were changing with his Lupus. He said it was around April of last year. I looked at my wife and she smiled back at me.

John and I hold the same belief that things happen for a reason even when we don’t always know why but there’s a Creator and He knows what He’s doing and that’s alright by us. You see, I had written off ever interviewing John for the documentary because of his Lupus (he had been at death’s door at least a couple of times with it) and lamented that fact because, aside from my mother, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, John was the one person I really wanted to interview. So, when I called him several weeks ago you can imagine my surprise when he sounded great and he related his present condition.

Alas, our visit was a short one. We only had a an hour or so since I had to be back in Utah for a shoot that evening but it was the best hour and a half I’ve had in some time. We talked about a lot of things. Some related to the Civil Rights Movement and some were just catching on each other’s lives.

Next to me on a table were two magazines John receives as a member of their organization. I laughed when I saw them because I thought they summed up John pretty well. One was for Lupus and the other was for the NRA.

Loki Mulholland – Writer/Director


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