Democrat Representative John Lewis recently pooh-poohed Bernie Sanders’ claim of civil rights activism saying, “I never saw him. I never met him. I was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved with the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed (the) voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President (Bill) Clinton.”
But now we have photographic evidence of Bernie’s participation – or at least of his arrest. Deep in the archives of the Chicago Tribune, a black and white photo of a 21-year-old Sanders being carted off by police has been found.
“Bernie identified it himself,” said Tad Devine, a senior adviser to the campaign, adding that Sanders looked at a digital image of the photo. “He looked at it — he actually has his student ID from the University of Chicago in his wallet — and he said, ‘Yes, that indeed is (me).”
Information with the negative indicated that the Tribune arrest photo was taken in August 1963 near South 73rd Street and Lowe Avenue, which is in the Englewood neighborhood.
In the mid-1960s, protests over segregation in the area raged over mobile classrooms dubbed “Willis Wagons,” named for then-Chicago Schools Superintendent Benjamin Willis. The phrase “Willis Wagons” was believed to have been coined in 1963 by Rosie Simpson, a leader in education reform in Chicago. She was describing the trailers that Willis set up for black children instead of sending them to white schools.
Sanders was arrested Aug. 12, 1963, and charged with resisting arrest. He was found guilty and fined $25, according to a Tribune story about the protests.
By the way, here’s a little historical perspective on the era: The Chicago movement primarily targeted a single individual, Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis. Consequently, Willis’s defenders were able to pigeonhole the movement as a vindictive attack on an innocent victim of circumstance. Willis’s allies painted him as an expert doing the best he could under difficult conditions caused by pressures of migration, suburbanization, and preexisting racial segregation. In addition, when the demands for Willis to resign became too great, Mayor Richard J. Daley (Democrat) was able replace the superintendent without substantially changing school policies or risking his electoral base among white (Democrat) voters.
The Chicago activists had to have the support of federal officials, but neither the president (Democrat) nor the courts were willing to place federal influence behind a movement against de facto segregation in a heavily Democratic city.
So now of course we’re all wondering, when will the OTHER Democrat candidate finally be charged? Not holding my breath…
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]