John Perdew '64, who was beaten and jailed while working for SNCC in Georgia last year, expects further trouble this month when he returns to that state with his Negro bride.
Inter-racial marriages are illegal in Georgia, and Perdew's marriage to Amanda Bowen, of Americus, though performed in his home state in Colorado, has evoked a stream of hostile publicity in the South.
Georgia papers carried front-page stories and the news was announced frequently over local radio stations. "I'm sure we'll meet a hostile response," Perdew commented. "But I'm not sure exactly what the police will do."
An inaccurate story in the Denver papers caused Perdew some anxiety. He said that he had received 20 to 25 "hate" phone calls and several letters as a result of the story, which claimed that his marriage was only intended to provide a test case of Georgia's law against inter-racial marriages. Perdew stressed that this was certainly not true.
Perdew has been working for SNCC since June, 1963, when be left Harvard to join the civil rights movement in Albany, Ga. Arrested almost immediately during a peace march, Perdew was charged with "assault with intent to kill," a state felony. While awaiting trial, Perdew was again arrested and this time charged with "attempting to incite an insurrection," a capital offence.
After a long legal battle, financed by a $5000 fund drive at Harvard, the laws under which Perdew was being charged were declared unconstitutional by a Federal court.
Perdew, who thinks he will probably return to Harvard at some point, said that he and his wife will continue to work for SNCC.
Their work will consist of voter registration, political education, teaching in a freedom school, and publication of a local civil rights newspaper.