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The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Fayette County Civic and Welfare League/Fayette County Civil Rights Museum Inc. collection

Repository: University of Memphis. Special Collections/Mississippi Valley Collection

Collection Description (CRHP): This collection includes 63 video recordings, forty-four of which are digitized (Betacam Sp). The digitized recordings were used for a 30-minute documentary that the University of Tennessee at Knoxville worked on called The Tent City Story, four CDs of which are in this collection. Folder 31 contains 254 pages of transcriptions of excerpts of videotaped interviews done in June 2001. Most of these interviews are partially transcribed. Tape logs of the interviews are in Box 2, Folder 33. Those interviewed include leaders Viola and John McFerren as well as Bob Hamburger, a white student who came from the North to assist in this struggle. There are also 28 audiotapes of interviews of John and Viola McFerren as well as others involved with this movement. Videotape 63 consists of scenes of Fayette County in 1965 and 1966 shot by Vicki Gabriner, a Cornell University civil rights workers in the summer of 1965. The footage is in color and contains no sound. It has scenes of the town and country as well as of local African Americans. It also shows African Americans marching and African American speakers. Cotton picking, African American children, police cars, and political campaign signs are shown in this footage as well. This videotape was a gift from Ms. Gabriner.

Collection Description (Extant): In September 1960, after the crops were gathered, white landowners in Fayette and Haywood counties in Tennessee blacklisted and forced black sharecroppers off their land in retaliation for registering (or even attempting to register) to vote. The sharecroppers were then forced to gather on donated land in Fayette County and live on dirt floors in an encampment which came to be known as 'Tent City.' The Tent City struggles attracted the attention of the Kennedy administration, drew national media coverage and resulted in the first federal lawsuit brought under the 1957 Civil Rights Act.

Papers, bulk 1959-1971, of the civil rights struggles in Fayette County, Tennessee. Included are newspaper clippings, community newsletters, correspondence, materials regarding school integration, voter registration lists, and records from the Fayette County Economic Development Commission. Also included are video and audio recordings of oral histories conducted by Robert Hamburger in research for the book, Our Portion of Hell: Fayette County, Tennessee; An Oral History of the Struggle for Civil Rights.

Digital Status: Partial

Existing IDs: MS 441

Extent: 9 boxes, 6 cu. ft. (5 archives boxes, 4 oversized boxes)

Language: English

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights

Subjects:

African Americans--Civil rights--Tennessee
Civil rights movements--Tennessee
Civil rights workers
Homelessness
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
School integration--Tennessee
Sharecroppers--Southern States
Tennessee--Race relations
United States. Civil Rights Act of 1957
Violence
Voter registration--Tennessee

Genres:

Interviews
Manuscripts
Photographs
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Videorecordings

 

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   March 5, 2012
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