Tag Archives: segregation

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

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Closing Exercises for Ripley Colored Public School

12 May

One hundred and fourteen years ago a group of young African Americans participated in closing exercises for what was known at the time as the Ripley Colored Public School.

 

From the Lauderdale County Enterprise – May 25, 1900 Edition

Closing Exercises Ripley Colored Public School

The Ripley Public School will close the most prosperous session since its existence on Thursday and Friday night, May 31st and June 1st 1900. An elaborate program has been prepared and the teachers are sparing no pain to have everything an up to date affair thus showing their efficiency and the discretion of the board in electing them. The school is now upon on a graded system and working nicely. The program is as follows.

Part I

Overture                                                                                             Band

Chorus

Invocation                                                                                           Rev. A.G. Currin

Chorus

Is Patriotism a Sham?                                                                     Frederick Clay

The Gambler’s Wife                                                                        Maggie L. Russell

Duet – Father is Drinking Again                                                  Missus Tyus and Hightower

Recitation – Two Sisters                                                                Miss Jessie Hightower

We Are Coming                                                                                Anna B. Thornton

Solo – An Outcast                                                                            Mrs. Jennie Rice

Recitation – The Raven                                                                  Miss Fae Russell

Progress of the Negro                                                                     Fannie Dupree

Trio – There Are Friends That We Never Forget                     Misses Norvell, Pearl & Jessie Hightower,

Is It Wise To Begin Now?                                                              H L Dupree

Solo – I Am The Merriest Girl That’s Out                                 Miss Maggie L. Russell

Part II

Music                                                                                                    Band

Chorus

Progress of Invention                                                                     Willie Peebles

Recitation – Brought Back                                                            Lela L. Crook

Solo – Boys Keep Away From The Girls                                     Howard L. Dupree

Recitation – Home Instruction                                                    Maggie B. Tyus

Trio – Friendliness and Sad                                                          Missus Thornton, Russell, Crook

Benefits of Education                                                                     W.D. Graham

Solo – Friends of my Youthful Days                                           E. Buchanan

The Coming Woman                                                                       Fannie Norvell

Solo – The Young Man Across The Way                                     Missus Jessie Hightower

Address                                                                                               Professor W.H. Fort – Principle Bruce Street High School Dyersburg

Awarding State Certificates                                                            Captain E.T. Hanks – Superintendent of Public Education

Song Of The Steeples                                                                        Dr. S.R. Clay

Benediction

Friends and Patrons of the school are cordially invited to attend.

 

A few interesting facts about the school at this point.

The school did not become officially known as Lauderdale County Training School until 1919 according to the 1985 Lauderdale County High School Reunion Booklet.

The list of graduates that I have of Lauderdale County Training School does not start until 1908, so exact graduates of earlier classes are currently unknown.

The principal during this time period is thought to be Professor M. L. Morrison. It is believed that he was principal from the early 1900s – 1912. He then served as principal again from 1944 – 1945.

It also appears that the school was around prior to 1900 due to this being noted as “the most properous session since its existence” by the Lauderdale County Enterprise.

 

I decided to see what I could find out about the speakers on the program. It is a good chance that they were students at the school.

Frederick Clay – There are 2 possible “Fred Clays” on the 1900 US Census for Lauderdale County. One Fred Clay was born in 1889 to Harry and Frances Clay making him about 11. The other Fred Clay, also listed as Frederick in some places, was born in 1886 to Hugh and Ellen Clay making him about 14.

Maggie L. Russell – Born in 1885 making her about 15. Her parents are Isaac and Corinna Russell.

Anna B. Thornton – Born in 1886 making her about 14. Her mother is Mary J. Houston (Thornton Washington).

Fannie Dupree – Born in 1886 making her about 14. Her parents are Calvin and Mary Dupree.

H L Dupree – also known as Howell L. Born in 1883 making him about 17. His parents are Calvin and Mary Dupree.

Lela Crook – Born in 1885 making her about 15. Her parents are James and Janie Crook.

 

I found the titles of some of the poems or readings a little interesting for a school program. The Gambler’s Wife was written in 1844 by Elizabeth Caroline Grey. Another interesting title was Father is Drinking Again, but I could not find anything that looked like it might have been a poem or short story with that title. I also noticed that The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe written in 1845 was on the list of readings.

Cheers to the Ripley Colored Public School (Lauderdale County Training School) on a successful year end ceremony.

 

 

– Tiffany

-Sources: Lauderdale County Enterprise May 25, 1900 edition, Lauderdale County Highschool 1985 Reunion Booklet

 

 

From the Bottom Documentary

10 Mar

I recently discovered a documentary titled “From the Bottom” discussing the life of Ulysses “Rip” Gooch, a Lauderdale County native. A trailer for the documentary can be found on Youtube.com and I have included it below.

If you would like to purchase the documentary it is available through Amazon.com using the following link -> http://amzn.com/B001RMLVOY

 

 

 

– Tiffany

Wanted – Colored Couple

24 Feb

July 6, 1917

Wanted – Colored couple to occupy servant’s house and help with work. John F. Campbell, Ripley

LC Enterprise Wanted 7-6-1916

LC Enterprise Wanted 7-6-1916

John F. Campbell was born about 1838 in North Carolina. On the 1910 census John and his wife Mary are living in Ripley and John is working in the grocery business, but there does not appear to be an African American couple living with them. They do have African American neighbors, but the male neighbor is a teacher and the female neighbor does not have a job listed. On the 1920 census he is listed as widowed and boarding in someone else’s home, so there doesn’t appear to be a clear paper trail to determining if an African American couple answered his ad or ever lived with him.

 

– Tiffany

Source: Lauderdale County Enterprise, July 6, 1917 edition

Photos of Segregation in the South

17 Jan

I was reading one of my favorite blogs and came across an article on Gordon Parks. Gordon Parks was a nationally known photographer most known for capturing images related to American life. He was also the first African American hired as a staff photographer and writer for Life Magazine. I came across an article written about how some photos of his that were previously thought to be lost had been found. It turns out some of these photos had actually been published in Life Magazine as part of a series on segregation. These particular photos are from Mobile, Alabama and were taken in 1956. Although they are not photos related to our favorite West Tennessee towns they are photos depicting what life was like under segregation. Many of the scenes depicted are scenes that our parents, grand parents and others would have witnessed and experienced.

Some of the quotes in the Life Magazine article stood out to me. A few are below.

“Although the Thorntons are thoughtful, and in private, articulate, they do not make many direct statements about segregation. This is because they face yet another restraint – the constant fear of publicly speaking their minds”

“Mr. Causey does not vote. He has never been able to master the reading of The Bill of Rights in the constitution, which all Negroes in his county must do before they are permitted to register.”

“They must tell their children, for example, that they cannot play in a nearby playground for whites but must use a “seperate but equal” one for Negroes. The children do not grasp the logic of this and view the white playground as a special, wonderful place from which they are being deliberately excluded.”

You can view some of the photos and read the backstory featured in The New York Times here:

NY Times

You can view the original Life Magazine article here:

The Restraints: Open and Hidden

You can view more on Gordon Parks and his work here:

http://www.gordonparksfoundation.org/

 

– Tiffany

Sources: The New York Times, Life Magazine September 24, 1956 issue, Gordon Parks Foundation

Lauderdale County Training School Graduates

18 May

Over the next few weeks I will be updating the blog with the list of graduates from Lauderdale County Training School.

1908

Alex Clay

1909

Bessie Dupree

1910

Missy Pauline Partee Reynolds

Fannie Clay “Bojangles” Robinson

1915

John Wesley Halliburton

Michael Nelson

1918

Pauline Halliburton Barlow

1919

Monnie Lou Wills Durham

1920

Lillian Carter

Francis Thompson

 

 

-Source: Lauderdale County Training School 1985 Reunion Booklet

 

-Tiffany