Posts tagged: Civil Rights

Josephine Groves Holloway, Girl Scout Hero

By , January 22, 2016

BN 1963-1091-6 Girl Scout Award“If you could see Camp Holloway, tour its area, have its program explained to you…you would never duck for cover when the Girl Scouts literally swarm your community at their cookie sale time. You would rush to participate in this program that is so clearly dedicated to the proposition of moulding young women to habits of honorable and purposeful citizenship.” – Robert Churchwell, Nashville Banner, July 13, 1960

* * *

Girl Scout Cookies have been helping troops across the country raise money since 1917, but not every girl has always been welcome in the organization. In Nashville, it wasn’t until 1942 that Josephine Groves Holloway successfully registered the first African American Girl Scout troop.

Holloway (pictured above) was working at Nashville’s Bethlehem Center when she first became interested in getting the young girls she worked with involved with the Girl Scouts. In 1924 she attended training with founder Juliette Gordon Low at George Peabody College for Teachers and started an unofficial troop. Even though her request to start an official troop was denied, that didn’t stop her from obtaining a copy of the Girl Scout handbook and using it with her girls.

Due to Holloway’s persistence and an increasing pressure from the national office to combat discrimination, the local council granted her request in 1942 and Troop 200 became Nashville’s first African American Girl Scout Troop. The foundation laid by Holloway in the black community contributed to a total of thirteen new troops in the eighteen months that followed, but segregation was still a reality and made activities like camping difficult.

During this time many state parks were closed to African Americans, but in 1951 land was purchased so that young black Girl Scouts in Middle Tennessee would have a place to camp. Named after its Nashville leader, Camp Holloway opened in Millersville, Tennessee in 1955 thanks to money gained from – you guessed it – cookie sales.  Today, Girl Scouts of all races and backgrounds enjoy the historic camp.

Holloway is a graduate of Fisk University and Tennessee A&I. She is also the first black professional Girl Scout employee in Middle Tennessee, holding positions as field advisor, district director, and camp director. She retired in 1963, but continued her community service and organized the first tuition-free volunteer tutoring program at Pearl High School and Head Elementary.  During the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 she was honored with the “Hidden Heroine” award and in 1991 the new Girl Scout headquarters on Granny White Pike opened the Josephine G. Holloway Historical Collection and Gallery.

As you order your Girl Scout Cookies this year, remember the legacy of Josephine Groves Holloway.

BN 1960-1811-9 AA Girl Scout Camp

Camp Holloway, 1960. Nashville Banner Archives.

For more information:

Trial and Triumph: Essays in Tennessee’s African American History
A History of the Cumberland Valley Girl Scout Movement

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

By , December 6, 2015

Black Panthers Vanguard of the RevolutionThe Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution 
by Stanley Nelson

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is a film about the history of the Black Panther Party containing rare archival footage and interviews with the people who were a part of it, including members Kathleen Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Ericka Huggins, and Jamal Joseph. It bills itself as the first feature length documentary to explore the party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Filmmaker Stanley Nelson notes:

“The parallels between pivotal moments within the movement and events occurring in our communities today are undeniable. To better understand the Black Panther Party is to be able to better reflect on our own racial climate and collective responsibility to ensure basic rights are fulfilled, not diminished, and that voices of justice and dissent are celebrated, not silenced.”

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution will air on PBS in February, but you can catch a FREE special screening with Stanley Nelson in attendance as part of our Conversations@NPL series this Friday, December 11 at 6:00pm. You may recognize the Emmy Award-winning filmmaker from some of his previous projects like The Murder of Emmett Till, Freedom Riders, and Freedom Summer – the film that framed the discussion for July’s Conversations@NPL event with civil rights activists Bernard Lafayette and C.T. Vivian. Following the screening, Mr. Nelson will answer questions with WSMV’s Demetria Kalodimos.

Click here for more information about The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

Back to School: A Lesson in the Forgotten History of Civil Rights

By , August 28, 2015

The March on Washington book coverA. Philip Randolph was an activist who spoke out about inequality and labor rights in the early part of the 20th century, helping to pave the way for civil rights even before Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. He spearheaded the original 1941 March on Washington movement before organizing the now famous 1963 event in which Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. He was also the leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters – the first African American led union to be accepted into the American Federation of Labor. His passion for equality even caused the Wilson administration to label him “the most dangerous negro in America” in 1919.

Tuesday marked the 90th anniversary of the first meeting of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters – “the greatest labor mass meeting ever held of, for and by Negro working men,” according to the Amsterdam News. If you’re an educator, consider incorporating A. Philip Randolph into your civil rights curriculum. Below we’ve compiled a list of key dates and resources available through the library.

A. PHILIP RANDOLPH (1889 – 1979)


Co-founded radical civil rights publication, The Messenger, with Chandler Owen and became involved in labor organizing.

Organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union and with the help of new amendments to the Railway Labor Act, successfully re-negotiated worker contracts with the Pullman Company in 1937.

Pullman Porters Union Meeting Final 2“Pullman Porters May Form Union.” Afro-American 29 Aug. 1925: 15.

Started the March on Washington movement with Bayard Rustin and A.J. Muste, resulting in the Fair Employment Act (Executive Order 8802) which prohibited employment discrimination in the national defense industry.

Organized the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training (which would later become the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation) with Grant Reynolds, resulting in Executive Order 9981 which abolished racial segregation in the Armed Forces.

Organized the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a nonviolent demonstration urging the government to abide by the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, with Bayard Rustin and other civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave his “Give us the Ballot” speech at this event.

Organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with Bayard Rustin and other key civil rights and labor leaders. This is the event where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Reading List

A. Philip Randolph: Messenger for the Masses*
A. Philip Randolph, Pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement
A. Philip Randolph: Union Leader and Civil Rights Crusader*

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter*
Marching Together: Women of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
Miles of Struggle, Years of Struggle: Stories of Black Pullman Porters
The Pullman Blues: An Oral History of the African American Railroad Attendant
Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class

March on Washington Movement
The March on Washington: A Primary Source Exploration of the Pivotal Protest*
The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights
When Negros March: The March on Washington Movement in the Organizational Politics for FEPC

Tie-ins with Tennessee History
The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: A Narrative History

Other Resources
A. Philip Randolph Institute
Pullman Porter Museum

* Children’s or young adult book

Superheroes of the Civil Rights Movement

By , May 22, 2015

March book coverWho do you think of when you hear the word “superhero?” Spider Man? Wonder Woman? The Hulk? How about someone like John Lewis?

Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement are superheroes, too. They may not have Spidey senses or a magic lasso, but their fight for justice and equality in the 1950s and 60s is no less powerful.

As a leader of the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins Mr. Lewis showed courage and strength and has continued to advocate for justice throughout his career, including in his current role as Congressman for Georgia’s Fifth District. Details about his experiences and inspiration can be found in his memoirs, March – a trilogy of graphic novels that tell his story.

When asked why he chose the medium of graphic novels he responded,

“I wanted to make it plain, clear, and simple for another generation to understand not just my story, but the story of a long and ongoing struggle to bring about justice in America. To make America better for young children, but also for teachers and another generation to feel what happened and how it happened in the long struggle to redeem the soul of America.”

March: Book One and March: Book Two are available for checkout from the library. Read them with your child for Summer Challenge and take a field trip to The Civil Rights Room.

Want to extend the discussion at home? Here are some suggestions:

Book Discussion
Pick out a teaching moment and have an in-depth discussion. For example, pages 50-52 of Book One explain how hard John Lewis fought for his education.

Read the pages together and discuss the importance and privileges of education while negotiating parameters around your child’s own values. Ask:

  • Why is school so important to Mr. Lewis? Is school important to you? Why or why not?
  • What do you think about Mr. Lewis disobeying his parents?
  • What kind of things are important to you and why?

Activity: What Would You Do?
Encourage your child to be their own superhero. Print out this activity sheet and ask them to draw what they would do in the situation. Discuss the image and reinforce the nonviolent approach taken by Martin Luther King, Jr. and all of the Civil Rights leaders. When they’ve finished their comic, ask them to tell their story and follow-up with a couple questions:

  • Have you ever been in a situation like this? What role were you in? How did it make you feel or how do you think it would make you feel?
  • Is it sometimes hard to stand up for yourself and/or others? Why?
  • What should you remember in situations like this one?

Finally, reiterate John Lewis’ message of the importance of speaking up for what you believe is right.

John Lewis Quote 1

Blacks and Whites: A Board Game

By , April 9, 2015

Blacks Whites CoverBoardwalk. Park Place. Ventnor and Atlantic Avenues, not to mention Marvin Gardens. The streets of Monopoly are places of childhood dreams and opportunity open to anyone with the luck of the dice and a fat enough bankroll to buy there. But not Gross Pointe and Shaker Heights, Bethesda, Georgetown and San Clemente. They are parts of a new and different game, one in which the color of a buyer’s skin may well shut him out of the property he wants, and even drive him off the board.

The game is called ‘Blacks & Whites,’ and it is unmistakably derived from Monopoly. Its object: to capture enough complete neighborhoods to drive competitors to bankruptcy.  - Time magazine, May 4, 1970.

*     *     *

The Main Library’s Special Collections Division houses many kinds of materials – records, manuscripts, photographs, oral histories, and yes, even board games. Blacks & Whites is a part of the Civil Rights Collection and was designed as an educational tool by the psychology department at the University of California Davis. Originally published as a cut-and-play (with an option to purchase the boxed version) in the March 10, 1970 issue of Psychology Today, the article explains,

“Chairman Robert Sommer and Judy Tart wanted to give middle-class whites a taste of the helplessness that comes from living against implacable odds. Players who chose to be black could not win, or seriously affect the course of the competitive thing going on between white players. But black and white students, testing the game for Psychology Today, rewrote the rules of play. As students tend to do nowdays, they shook up the rigidities of the past and introduced freeform alternatives. Black people, though still victims of discrimination, became the agents of change in a game that came to emphasize the absurdities of playing on the same board while living in different worlds.”

Opinions of the game are mixed, but come take a look for yourself. It’s a great TableTop Day field trip for board game enthusiasts.

Blacks & Whites - Components Blue

Blacks and Whites - Board

Paul LaPrad: Civil Rights Activist

By , March 9, 2015

Line of PicketersThe Civil Rights Movement is often presented as a battle for equality that pitted all blacks against all whites. And, from afar, this is true. But, in Nashville and throughout the country, there were students of other races and backgrounds that believed in equality and fought right alongside African Americans. These students were subjected to the same kinds of physical abuse that other protesters faced but they continued to fight for this cause. The Civil Rights Movement is not just African American history, it is the history of our nation and the ways we come together to fight against oppression.

Paul LaPrad, for example, was a white student from Indiana that attended Fisk University during the Sit-Ins. He chose to spend a year at a predominantly African American school to surround himself with people that were different from him in order to better understand how to work with individuals from varying backgrounds. Since he was new to the area, all of LaPrad’s friends were from Fisk, and therefore, African American. While this caused no problems on campus, LaPrad remembers being frustrated that he could not go out in the city with his friends.

“…If I did choose to go Downtown and go to a movie, or go to dinner or something, I couldn’t do it with my friends from school. And you know, to me, that was a bunch of malarkey.”

LaPrad on floor after being beaten

Paul LaPrad, on the floor, is beaten by onlookers. Photo courtesy of The Tennessean, February 28, 1960.

As a member of the Church of Brethren, LaPrad believed in peace above all else, which drew him to the teachings of non-violence and he began attending James Lawson’s classes. On February 27, 1960, LaPrad joined other activists at the lunch counter in McClellan’s store. While there, he was pulled off of his stool, beaten, and eventually arrested for participating in the protest. Of the 70-80 students that were arrested that day for sitting-in at lunch counters throughout the city, 10 were white.  LaPrad and the other white participants were housed separately from the others since the jails were still segregated. Even after this experience, LaPrad continued to believe in the principles of non-violence and the goals of the movement.

The lessons of the Civil Rights Movement – equality, non-violence, respect – are still relevant today. As Paul LaPrad says, “It’s just important that we consider people as people. And I think, again, back to the Sit-Ins, there were certainly some people, white people who were very much against what we were doing. There were some who were somewhat open. There were some who were definitely open to what we were trying to do. And, as I stated earlier, that phenomenon of various grades of thinking exists within all communities. That’s not just a Black/White thing.”


You can access an oral history with Paul LaPrad as well as many other interviews with Civil Rights activists in the Civil Rights Oral History Collection at the Special Collections Department of the Nashville Public Library. You can also visit the Civil Rights Room to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville.

- Amber

Nashville & Selma

By , February 9, 2015

Poster for movie Selma

Watching the new movie Selma was like seeing Nashville’s Civil Rights “All Stars”: James Bevel, Diane Nash, C.T. Vivian, John Lewis, Bernard LaFayette are all depicted in the film.

To be sure, the Nashville movement was much larger than these five people. Many others who gained national prominence in the Civil Rights Movement also got their start in Nashville. But they couldn’t have done it alone. Countless ordinary “foot soldiers” – like the mass of marchers in Selma – took part in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins in 1960, often enduring beatings, arrests, and insults.


James Bevel in1960, at a protest in Nashville

James Bevel at a protest in Nashville, March 1960


What you may not have known – and what is not shown in the film – is that former Nashville activist, James Bevel, first proposed the Selma-to-Montgomery march. Prompted by the cold indifference of Alabama governor George Wallace to the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson by state troopers, Bevel said:

“I’m going to go and talk to Wallace, and I’m going to walk all the way from Selma to Montgomery, because I want to think about what I want to say to him…. How many people you think … [will] walk with me?”

Listen to this excerpt of an oral history interview with Bernard LaFayette, where he tells more about Bevel’s role in initiating the march.


LaFayette on Bevel and Selma march

LaFayette on Bevel and Selma march


The Nashvillians portayed in Selma could march forward without fear, because they had already endured so much. They were, in the strongest sense of the word, veterans. In 1961, when some of them – including Diane Nash and John Lewis – left Nashville for Alabama to ensure that the Freedom Rides continued, they quite consciously knew they were risking death. These courageous men and women, most of them in their early twenties, made sure they had made out their wills before leaving town.

Now, it was four years later, and the Civil Rights campaign had focused on Selma. People who had gotten their training in non-violent protest in Nashville during the sit-ins were again at the forefront, and they were still risking their lives.

Learn more:


The Children by David Halberstam (tells the story of the Nashville sit-ins)

Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Raymond Arsenault

In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma by Bernard LaFayette [Library Use Only]

Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America by Frye Gaillard [Library Use Only]


Nashville: We Were Warriors [available for individual viewing in the Main Library's Civil Rights Room]

Freedom Riders

4 Little Girls [Library Use Only]

Selma the City and the Symbol [Library Use Only]

Home of the Brave [Library Use Only]

Primary sources at Nashville Public Library:

Civil Rights Oral History Project

Civil Rights Collection

Civil Rights topics in our Digital Collections 

– Linda

National Day of Listening – November 28

By , November 10, 2014
Four individuals at table

Library staff and community members gather for an oral history

When I mention the day after Thanksgiving what do you think of? Leftover turkey? Black Friday shopping? Football games? These are all great things about the last Friday in November but did you know that this day is also National Day of Listening? In 2008, StoryCorps launched an unofficial campaign to encourage Americans to take some time during this holiday weekend to talk to each other. The premise is simple: sit down with a friend or relative, ask them some questions, have a conversation, and record it to share with your family or the nation. It’s as easy as that.

Stories have so much power. Each of us has lived an incredible life but all too often, our personal story doesn’t sound that amazing to us. However, these stories can personalize history in a way that nothing else can. The Special Collections Department has multiple oral history collections that include stories from veterans, civil rights activists, business leaders, immigrants, and everyday people. These collections are some of our most used resources because of the connection they give to historical events.

First Day of Integration

Grace McKinley walking her daughter to Fehr Elementary School, Nashville, Tennessee, 1957 September 09, the same day Mrs. Risby discusses.

Take Alice Smith Risby, for example. In her interview from 2007, she talks about her daughter being one of the first graders that integrated Nashville schools in YEAR. She specifically mentions that her daughter’s name was not in the papers because they missed registration so this event would not have been recorded if she hadn’t shared her story. But the part I love about oral histories comes toward the end of the clip. One of the parents of another student walks up to her and tells her they are there to make sure nothing happens to her daughter. That human interaction happened over 50 years ago but it still stays in Mrs. Risby’s memory because it meant so much to her.


What stories does your family have to tell? Find out this month by following these easy steps!

  1. Decide who you want to interview. A grandparent, sibling, parent, cousin, friend, anyone you like!
  2. Create a list of questions. Here is a list of Great Questions from StoryCorps but feel free to come up with your own. Is there a specific story you want to hear more about? Think about what you already know about the person and go from there!
  3. Find some recording equipment. If you have a tape recorder or video camera, great! If not, you can use a smartphone or even a computer. Get creative.
  4. Pick a place to record. It’s always best to find a quiet spot to record this story but others may want to hear. If you can’t find a spot for the two of you, ask others to try to keep quiet so that the story can be captured as best as possible.
  5. Begin!! State your names, the date, the location, and your relationship. Remember this story may live on past the two of you so you want people to know who you are!
  6. We recommend 40 minutes as a good length for interviews but you can do as long or short as you like. 40 minutes makes the files small enough that they are easy to manage.
  7. Share it! Send it to your family, post it on the Internet, share it on StoryCorps Wall of Listening.

That’s it! You have conducted an oral history.

Learn more about our Oral History Collections here!

For more resources and more oral histories, check out StoryCorps

Drawing of family interview

Image from StoryCorps, used with permission.

And don’t forget to join us November 19 at 11:30 AM for our Film for Thought series. We will be screening “Listening is an Act of Love,” a production by StoryCorps, in honor of National Day of Listening.


Happy Listening!

- Amber

50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer

By , July 27, 2014

In the summer of 1964, around one thousand young people, mostly college students, mostly white, headed to Mississippi. Their goals seemed simple. Help black people to register to vote. Start community schools, libraries, and centers. They knew it would be tough. Mississippi law was not on their side.

Check out the full movie: Freedom Summer from Nashville Public Library


Freedom Summer by Susan Goldman Rubin

Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi 
by Susan Goldman Rubin

The disappearance of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner forms the backbone of this thoroughly researched book. Rubin conducted interviews with many of the students and leaders present in Mississippi during that summer, interweaving their stories with news accounts and other primary source documentation. The real treasures of the book, however, are the photographs. From frightening scenes of violence to the peaceful setting of children reading in a library, readers are able to viscerally connect with that long-ago summer.

Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell

The Freedom Summer Murders  
by Don Mitchell

Who were those three young men who were shot in a dark, secluded Mississippi woods? Their names and faces mobilized the first real government interference in Mississippi’s racist political system, but they did not set out to be heroes. Mitchell traces the early years of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, as well as the reactions of their families to their disappearance at the onset of Freedom Summer.


Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

Freedom Summer  
by Deborah Wiles
illustrated by John Lagarrigue

John Henry swims better than anyone I know. He crawls like a catfish, blows bubbles like a swamp monster, but he doesn’t swim in the town pool with me. He’s not allowed. Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim. But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be  
by Augusta Scattergood

A Mississippi town in 1964 gets riled when tempers flare at the segregated public pool. As much as Gloriana June Hemphill, or Glory as everyone knows her, wants to turn twelve, there are times when Glory wishes she could turn back the clock a year. Jesslyn, her sister and former confidante, no longer has the time of day for her now that she’ll be entering high school. Then there’s her best friend, Frankie. Things have always been so easy with Frankie, and now suddenly they aren’t. Maybe it’s the new girl from the North that’s got everyone out of sorts. Or maybe it’s the debate about whether or not the town should keep the segregated public pool open.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

by Deborah Wiles

Sunny is twelve-years-old as the summer of 1964 begins to bake her home in Greenwood, Mississippi. She’s already feeling overwhelmed by her new stepmother and her two kids, and now there’s talk of white people coming to stir up trouble for everyone. And sure enough, right away three Freedom Summer workers disappear. Violence hangs like a thundercloud over Greenwood, while Sunny frantically tries to understand who is right.


Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson

Like a Holy Crusade by Nicolaus Mills

Like a Holy Crusade: Mississippi 1964 – The Turning of the Civil Rights Movement in America  
by Nicolaus Mills

We remember the Kennedy men of the 1960s as “the best and the brightest”; we celebrate the Mercury astronauts for having “the right stuff.” But, Mills writes, if anyone in the 1960s earned the right to be called heroes it was the men and women who risked their lives to carry out the Mississippi Summer Project. That summer took a terrible toll on staff, volunteers, and, above all, those black families who opened their homes to the movement. In the face of danger, courage was everywhere.


Freshwater Road by Denise Nichols

Freshwater Road  
by Denise Nichols

Nineteen-year-old Celeste Tyree leaves Ann Arbor to go to Pineyville, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964 to help found a voter registration project as part of Freedom Summer. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself.



Mississippi Burning (movie) Mississippi Burning (DVD)

Two FBI agents investigate the deaths of civil rights workers in a Mississippi town. Tension is caused by the discovery of a local coverup.

Directed by Alan Parker. With Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, and Brad Dourif.


Neshoba (movie)

 Neshoba: The Price of Freedom (DVD)

The story of a Mississippi town forty years after the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, an event dramatized in the Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning. No one was held accountable until 2005, when the State indicted preacher Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old notorious racist and mastermind of the murders.

Directed by Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano


The Nashville Room at the Nashville Public Library’s Main Branch has many resources on the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these books are unique and hard to find. Below is a list of books available in the Nashville Room. These books cannot be checked out.

Letters from Mississippi

Letters from Mississippi: Reports from the Civil Rights Volunteers and Freedom School Poetry of the 1964 Freedom Summer  
ed. by Elizabeth Martinez

800 students gathered for a week-long orientation session at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, in June, 1964, before leaving for Mississippi. They were mostly white and young, with an average age of 21. Letters from Mississippi is a collection of moving, personal letters written by volunteers of the summer.

And Gently He Shall Lead Them

And Gently He Shall Lead Them: Robert Parris Moses and Civil Rights in Mississippi  
by Eric Burner

Moses spent almost three years in Mississippi trying to awaken the state”s black citizens to their moral and legal rights before the fateful summer of 1964 would thrust him and the Freedom Summer movement into the national spotlight. This first biography, a primer in the life of a unique American, sheds significant light on the intellectual and philosophical worldview of a man who is rarely seen but whose work is always in evidence.

Freedom Summer - Belfrage

Freedom Summer 
by Sally Belfrage

Published in 1965, Belfrage recounts her time participating in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s summer project in Mississippi in 1964. The text covers one intense summer from the basic training session in June to the Democratic Convention in August.
Faces of Freedom SummerFaces of Freedom Summer
text by Bobs M. Tusa
photographs by Herbert Randall

These rare photographs re-create the exhilaration and danger of Freedom Summer in 1964 Mississippi.

Book review: Black Against Empire

By , June 10, 2013

Black Against EmpireBlack Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr.

Since Karen and Laurie often blog about fashion, it seemed like a good time to revisit the timelessness of a black leather jacket and beret. Not to downplay the social import of fashion, but Black Against Empire concerns the history of the Black Panther Party, one of the few political parties ever to call for the violent overthrow of the United States government and see any modicum of success. Bloom and Martin successfully defuse the explosive controversies surrounding the Party by focusing on its political platform with academic detachment. Their primary sources are Party materials and first person interviews. This is not to say the authors shy away from intra-Party personal conflicts, or extremely dirty tricks on the part of law enforcement, or Party founder Huey Newton’s downward spiral after the organization blossomed to international significance only to implode under its own weight. Remember how Good Will Hunting ends with Matt Damon driving off into the sunset for California? Newton’s life after the collapse of the Panthers is the sequel. Lingering over Newton’s biography is exactly the sort of thing Bloom and Martin do their best to avoid. What I am struck by are the contrasts between then and now. Reading this now throws an entirely different light on the gun control debate. It reveals the Occupy Movement was not that good at occupying anything at least compared to the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, the American Indian Movement, or Students for a Democratic Society. Though the difference there might be trying to occupy a university versus trying to occupy a bank. Black Against Empire is vital history and a fascinating addendum to the social justice narrative chronicled by the library’s own Civil Rights Collection.

If you are interested in the Panthers, you might also want to check out the relatively new Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention by Jamal Joseph and the documentary Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975.

If you are genuinely interested in black leather as fashion, you should check out Punk: Chaos to Couture. I might blog about that soon.

- Bryan

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