Raised in Tampa, Florida
In the spring of 1965, Gloria House heard that a group of students from San Francisco State were collecting books, traveling to Selma, Alabama, and planning to start a freedom school. House, a graduate student at Berkeley, had gotten involved in the Free Speech Movement on campus and heard many stories from students that had been South the summer before.
The first night that House arrived in Selma, she went to a rally at Brown Chapel where Stokely Carmichael, then SNCC project director in Lowndes County, was speaking. He told her about the work being done in Lowndes County and invited her to join. For the next few months, House worked at the freedom school during the day and in the evenings canvassed and sought people willing to try and register to vote in Lowndes County.
By the end of the summer of 1965, House was arrested for picketing a store in Hayneville, Alabama. She was hauled into a garbage truck and thrown into jail. Two weeks later, House was forced out of jail at gunpoint, only to witness co-worker Jonathan Daniels, a young Episcopal seminarian from New Hampshire, get shot and killed by a deputy sheriff.
After Daniels’ funeral, House headed back to Berkeley with the intention of completing her master’s thesis and resuming her job as a teaching assistant in the French Department. But the California campus no longer seemed the place to be, and after a week, she returned Alabama as a SNCC field secretary. “No one turns back to a life of indifference to human rights after experiences like these,” says House reflecting on her work with SNCC. She has published three poetry collections: Blood River (1983), Rainrituals (1989), and Shrines (2004) that reflect her involvement in civil rights and Third World solidarity since her years with SNCC. “I learned from close encounters how the mechanisms of power and oppression work and also saw firsthand the enormous human capacity to resist and transcend them.”
Faith Holsaert, et al., eds., Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC
Robert Franklin Williams, Negroes with Guns