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Additional resources for A Life In The Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition
Political action requires risk and presumes that short-term sacrifices will yield long-term benefits. But most poor people have no assurance that there will be a long run for them, and regardless of their sympathies, they often cannot afford to think about political change. Ivory Perry came to feel that social change had to touch the lives of people on the bottom of society to really make a difference, and that in order to reach these people it had to begin with their everyday needs and concerns.
Many of the coalitions that he formed later in life resembled the alliance among educators, business owners, fraternal organizations, and individuals that rallied in support of the Brantons in Pine Bluff in 1940. Yet while Ivory Perry and his family took pride in the civil rights activism in Pine Bluff, they did not participate in it directly. They had no independent income and could not afford to alienate white employers. The matters decided in voting booths and courtrooms seemed very distant from the daily struggle for survival that occupied most of their time.
And in words that would prove somewhat prophetic, seventy-eightyear-old Tanner Thomas argued: God intended for every man in the world to have a living and to live for each other but too many of 'em living for themselves. But everything's goin' to work out right after a while. God's goin' to change this thing after a while. You can't rush him. He can handle these people. 1 3 These men, and their contemporaries, had witnessed enormous changes in a lifetime. Born as slaves, they remembered the promises of emancipation and the achievements of Reconstruction.
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