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Collection Title: Civil Rights in the South Collection

Collection Number: M406

Dates: ca. 1958-2004

Volume: .75 cu. ft.

Provenance: The contents of this collection were donated by several individuals between the years 1999-2005. Additional materials may be added in the future.

Restrictions: Available for research use by the serious student and scholar.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Even after Constitutional Amendments had granted African Americans citizenship and the right to vote, racial discrimination and racial segregation still predominated throughout the South. To rectify the situation, a massive grassroots movement was necessary. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States was a mass movement of non-violent protests in which whites and blacks joined forces to put an end to racial discrimination. Some of the most influential and important events in the Movement took place between the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Topeka, Kansas decision and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Civil Rights, however, has a long and continuing history in the United States.

After the Civil War, the thirteenth (1865), fourteenth (1868), and fifteenth (1870) Amendments to the Constitution were passed that outlawed slavery, gave citizenship to all people born in the United States, and gave the right to vote to all regardless of race, respectively. However, white supremacy prevailed in the South and people were reluctant to abide by these changes. The 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court Case decided that as long as accommodations, travel, and services were equal for whites and blacks, they could remain segregated. This case coined the phrase “separate but equal” allowing the South to remain segregated.
Early civil rights organizations included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that was founded in 1909 to provide legal support to African Americans who were discriminated against. After the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate schools in 1954, more civil rights groups began to form. In 1957 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) formed, followed by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1961, and leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began to promote desegregation and the equality of blacks. The Civil Rights Movement took on a more organized and active role in the South.

Civil rights groups organized non-violent protests, sit-ins, and marches to support desegregation of public services and places, and to support the equality of African Americans in voting rights and citizenship. Vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan and social regulations like the Jim Crow Laws denied African Americans these rights through violence, intimidation, and deception. Some state governments even set up tax-funded organizations like the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (1956-1977) to defend and preserve racial segregation.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders spearheaded marches, sit-ins, protests, and boycotts, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956, the March on Washington in 1963, and the Selma March in 1965. In 1961 SNCC began the Freedom Rides from Washington DC throughout the South, however, met with violence, they had to cancel them. In 1962 the same student organization opened “Freedom Schools” throughout the South to teach local African Americans about voter registration. In 1964 volunteers led the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project to help African Americans register to vote as well as challenge the all-white political parties in the state.

After long years of struggling for equality, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and Congress forced desegregation. In 1968 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and this marked the end of the organized Movement, but the legacy lives on. Programs marking Black History Month and the success of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project are celebrated annually.

 

Sources:

Sirimarco, Elizabeth. (2004). American Voices from the Civil Rights Movement. New
York, NY: Benchmark Books.
Winters, Paul A. (Ed). (2000). Turing Points in World History: The Civil Rights
Movement.
San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc.

Scope and Content:

This collection is a compilation of various materials relating to the Civil Rights Movement in the South donated by WDAM-TV, WUSM-FM, faculty at The University of Southern Mississippi, and other individuals between the years 1999-2005.

The collection includes videos, publications, correspondence, pamphlets, and other items relating to the Civil Rights Movement. Of particular interest are:

- CBS News Production video of “History Undercover: Mississippi State Secrets” (2001)
- WDAM-TV film footage of civil rights related events between 2001-2004
- Hattiesburg High School’s 2004 production of “Freedom Summer”
- Compact disc of a 2004 WUSM interview with Howard Zinn
- Two photocopied letters written by Byron De La Beckwith, Sr., to his son Byron De La Beckwith, Jr. (1963). The letters were written while Beckwith, Sr. was detained in the Mississippi State Hospital following his arrest for the murder of Medgar Evers
- Medical Committee for Human Rights booklet that contains biographical sketches of members of the MCHR that assisted in the Civil Rights Movement (1997)
- Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission correspondence (1958-1967)
- Several programs of Civil Rights celebrations in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (2004)

Also in the collection are advertising posters for Hattiesburg High School 's production of “Freedom Summer”; a September 22, 1958 copy of Life magazine that includes several articles about desegregation; and an August 18, 1962 copy of Mississippi Free Press.

More materials may be added to this collection in the future.


Other Finding Aids:

Box and Folder List


Related Collections:

AM04-68 Beckwith (Byron De La, Sr.) Letters.
M191 Johnson, Paul B. Family Papers.
M375 Martin (Josephine D.) Papers.

M406
Civil Rights in the South Collection
Box and Folder List


Box 1
Folder 1 Beckwith, Byron De La correspondence with his son (1963) [Photocopies and transcripts].

Folder 2 Booklet: Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1964-1997.

Folder 3 Compact Disc: Zinn, Howard Interview (WUSM, November 17, 2004).

Folder 4 Fairchild Lecture Series: “The Courage to Act,” Hattiesburg, Mississippi (2004).

Folder 5 Ku Klux Klan Document (ca. 1960s).

Folder 6 Mississippi Sovereignty Commission: Correspondences (ca. 1958-1067) [Photocopies].

Folder 7 Pamphlet: “Racial Amalgamation Propaganda versus Segregation and
Racial Cooperation” (1963).

Folder 8 Video: Hattiesburg High School Production of “Freedom Summer” and
related materials (2004)

Folder 9 Video: “History Undercover: Mississippi State Secrets,” CBS News
Productions (2001).

Folder 10 Video: WDAM-TV Film Footage of Civil rights Related Events in
Hattiesburg, Mississippi (2001-2004)

Folder 11 “Voices of Civil Rights,” Hattiesburg, Mississippi (2004).


Box 2 (Oversize Materials)
Folder 1 Hattiesburg High School Production of “Freedom Summer” (Oversize Posters)

Folder 2 Life magazine (September 22, 1958).

Folder 3 Mississippi Free Press newspaper (August 18, 1962).


Accession Number: AM06-20

Dates: 2006

Provenance: Donated by Callie McCune, Agnes Mazur, and Mona Ghadiri on March 27, 2006

Volume: 1 DVD film

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

One DVD copy of a film titled “Carrying the Burden: The Story of Clyde Kennard.” The documentary film is approximately 15 minutes in length, and was produced by Mona Ghadiri, Callie McCune, and Agnes Mazur, students at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, as a history project. The film chronicles Clyde Kennard’s attempts to integrate the University of Southern Mississippi in the late 1950s.

 


 


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Revised: May 5, 2006