AFSC Active in Promoting Voting Rights in 1960’s Rural South

Fiftieth Anniversary Reunion Planned

by Judy Vaughan

The American Friends Service Committee played a role in the overthrow of segregation in the South. Former participants in a 1963 AFSC project in Warrenton, North Carolina met at the home of Elliott Isenberg of San Francisco December 17-18, 2011 to remember this quiet little civil rights project and to reflect on its lasting effect.

The seven former participants recalled creating and presenting workshops in voter registration and voting procedures in rural churches in a North Carolina county where few African-Americans were registered to vote. Based in segregated Warrenton, North Carolina, the fourteen college students and their three leaders were the first interracial group to live together in Warren County.

The 1963 Citizenship Education Project was initiated and strongly supported by Warrenton resident Eva Clayton, who teamed with rural ministers to sponsor educational workshops to encourage voter registration and other civic activism among the impoverished Black majority.  Eva was elected to Congress in 1992. The first African-American woman elected to the U. S. Congress from North Carolina, she served for ten years. She remains active in community issues, and supports plans for a fiftieth anniversary reunion in Warrenton in 2013.

1963 Citizenship Education group members attending the gathering from California were Elliott Isenberg, Gavin Wright, Judith Vaughan, Steve Dautoff, Betsey Sweeney with son Jon and husband Randy Sweeney, and Peter Clausen, whose late mother Bronwyn Baird had been a member of the project. Members Jane Luton from Washington, D.C. and Liz Butters from Colorado attended. British participants Julian Bicknell and Gwyneth Love visited via SKYPE.

Anyone interested in remembering this project or participating in the reunion in 2013 may contact Judy (Beil) Vaughan at jfbvaughan@comcast.net.