SNCC Veteran Lawrence Hiroshi Mamiya, 76, Professor Emeritus of Religion and Africana Studies at Vassar College died in Hawaii on 1/7/19. Born on 7/10/1942 in Honolulu, Larry earned a MDiv degree from Union Theological Seminary and PhD from Columbia University in New York City. He did community organizing in East Harlem, and voter registration and civil rights advocacy in Georgia as part of SNCC and the SW Georgia Project.
Larry wrote of his time with SNCC:
“I worked in Cordele, Georgia in 1966 as a part of the Southwest Georgia Project headed by Charles Sherrod. The SNCC staff in Cordele included John Baptiste, his wife Ramona Lockwood, Rev. Fullwood, and some local leaders.
“It was a brutal and bloody time. Although our major task was to organize voter registration, we also attempted to desegregate the state facilities (swimming pool and concession stands) at the Veterans Memorial State Park, which was 8 miles from Cordele. Our attempts to integrate the park were met with a lot of violence and hostility. It eventually led to 3 nights and days of gun battles at a major intersection leading to the interstate highway. Whites at two white-owned gas stations destroyed two black owned gas stations just by gun fire. 99% of the the shooting was done by whites armed with automatic weapons, high powered rifles, etc. Some blacks tried to shoot back but were met by volleys of gun fire. The shooting stopped when the Georgia State Troopers finally stepped in — they were there the whole time and only stopped it when the black stations were completely destroyed.”
During his years at Vassar, Larry served on Dutchess County’s first Commission on Human Rights and on the boards of the New Day Repertory Theater and R.E.A.L.