Archive | June, 2014

Freedom Summer 1964

25 Jun

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. Freedom Summer was a massive undertaking that sought to register as many African American voters in the state of Mississippi as possible. The groups behind Freedom Summer sought as many individuals, mainly students, to participate in the activities. These activities included voter registration, Freedom Schools, and community centers in Mississippi to encourage voter registration and education. It was without a doubt a dangerous job to take with 3 volunteers killed at the very start of Freedom Summer. Knowing that the 50th Anniversary was approaching I decided to see if I could find participants from West Tennessee. I found the following names listed on the Wisconsin Historical Society website.

 

1. Gloria Bishop – Memphis, TN – Volunteer – Assigned to Canton/Madison County, Mississippi Rural

2. Rev. Edward L Brown – Memphis, TN – Volunteer – Clergy sponsored by the National Council of Churches

3. Ed Hamlett – Jackson, TN – Volunteer – White Community Project

4. James Nance – Trenton, TN – Volunteer – Assigned to Hattiesburg, Mississippi

5. Jewelene Owens – Memphis, TN – Volunteer – Assigned to Jackson, Mississippi – Voter Registration

6. Gwendolyn Robinson – Memphis, TN – Volunteer – Assigned to Laurel, Mississippi – Freedom Center

6. Rev. William SMith – Memphis, TN – Volunteer – Clergy sponsored by the National Council of Churches

 

I do not believe that the list provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society is conclusive. There certainly could have been more participants from West Tennessee as there were 1000+ volunteers. What is known is that these participating individuals were very brave to fight to secure the fundamental right to vote for African Americans in Mississippi. At the conclusion of the summer 1600 African Americans were successfully registered. While that may not seem like a large number it truly was given the type of place Mississippi was at the time. The next year in 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act which sought to protect individuals from discrimination at the voting polls.

 

– Tiffany

Source – Wisconsin Historical Society

Colored Lodge – Benevolent Society

6 Jun

A while back I posted a newspaper clipping from the Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872 edition mentioning that the African Americans in Ripley had gotten together to form a Union League/Benevolent Society. You can find the original article here -> Newspaper Clippings – Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872.

Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872

Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872

 

While browsing through Sanborn Maps I noticed that one of the maps depicted a location known as the “Colored Lodge”. Could it have also been known as the Benevolent Society? Its location would have been right across the street from the First Baptist Church on Main Street next door to the present day location of Pitts Barbershop. I noticed that the Colored Lodge seems to be on the second story of this building with an undertaker on the first story. I’m curious to know who this undertaker might have been. Could this undertaker have catered to African Americans? The Hudson and Graham Funeral Home was not established until 1910 and Alex Clay of the Clay Funeral Home would have been a young child at this time.

 

Colored Lodge

Colored Lodge

 

 

By the 1891 Sanborn Map the heading for this location was no longer noted as “Colored Lodge”. The second story of this building was a furniture repair shop and the first story of this building was still occupied by an undertaker.

 

– Tiffany

 

 

Sources: 1887 and 1891 Sanborn Maps for Ripley, TN, Nashville Union and American July 3, 1872 edition