Chloe Edwards, MDAH Electronic Records archivist, brings us the first post in a new series celebrating Electronic Records Day and Archives Month.

At left, Freedom Rider Helen Singleton is interviewed by host Bill Stoudt. (Credit: http://www.singletonfreedomriders.com/category/coverage/)

At left, Freedom Rider Helen Singleton is interviewed by host Bill Stoudt. (Credit: http://www.singletonfreedomriders.com/category/coverage/)

The City at Night

Call number: Disk 0007

Format: DVD

Run time: 48 minutes

In honor of Electronic Records Day, first celebrated on 10/10/10 (can you guess why?), a new blog series will highlight some of the newly available digital content from Electronic Archives: the disk collection. These disks have made their way to Electronic Archives from other sections of the department as well as from outside donors. It runs the gamut, from audio CDs of Mississippi recording artists like Dorothy Moore and Ora Reed, to documentaries on Mississippi history, to CDs containing genealogical resources.

Today we feature one disk in particular: Disk 0007, “The City at Night” is a reformatted copy of an episode of this weekly news program that aired on KTLA in Los Angeles from 1950 to 1960. What made “The City at Night” unique was its premise: the show was filmed live and its topic kept a secret from the host and camera crew until just hours before filming (although the topic was often leaked to audiences prior to broadcast). The show was predicated on the idea that viewers could experience aspects of their city to which they might not otherwise have been exposed. “The City at Night” featured a mix of programming that included university homecomings, Hollywood’s Fire Station 27, the Los Angeles Braille Institute, and in the late summer of 1961, the show covered a Freedom Riders training session. Men and women who participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides tested a recent Supreme Court ruling declaring segregated facilities in interstate transportation unconstitutional. Groups traveled by bus, plane, or train—integrating terminals, restaurants, and restrooms along the way.

MDAH is fortunate to hold a copy of this broadcast, which was donated to the department by Winston Fuller in 2011. The program can be divided into three sections. The first shows experienced Freedom Riders addressing an auditorium of potential volunteers, describing to them in detail what will happen when they are arrested and how they will be treated in the Hinds County Jail and the state penitentiary at Parchman. Then the training moves to a simulated sit-in, showing the kind of treatment volunteers could expect when they demonstrated at a segregated lunch counter. Finally, there are interviews, first with the Freedom Riders who participate in the skit (shown in image above/below), and then with volunteer (and future donor) Winston Fuller, who would go on to participate in his first Freedom Ride to Jackson shortly after the filming. Also included in the broadcast is footage showing the arrest of several Freedom Riders in the Jackson bus station on July 26, 1961.

The training captured by this broadcast is a powerful first-hand account of preparations for the Freedom Rides, as well as their treatment in the city.  Perhaps most importantly, it shows the Freedom Riders as individuals: as kids who could see the humor and horror in Parchman, and as men and women who were determined to act to change the segregated status quo.

MORE INFORMATION:

To find out more about this disk, search our online catalogue for disk 0007. To browse the disk collection, navigate to the Advanced Search page, check the “Electronic Records” box, and type “disk” into the keyword search bar.

All catalogued disks are available to view in the Media Room; patrons should request disks from media staff using the four digit call number.

VIEWING NOTES:

If you wish to view this disk, please be aware that there is no fast-forward or reverse capability on the DVD: it can only be watched from beginning to end, although playback can be stopped at any point.

References:

Chambers, Stan. KTLA’s News at 10: Sixty Years with Stan Chambers. Behler Publications, 2008. Accessed on 10/03/2014 through Google Books.

Connor, Michan Andrew. “Creating Cities and Citizens: Municipal Boundaries, Place, Entrepreneurs, and the Production of Race in Los Angeles Count, 1926–1978.” Ph.D. diss., University of Southern California, 2008. Accessed 10/03/2014 at http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll127/id/141194

Image: screenshot at 00:02:11 from http://www.singletonfreedomriders.com/category/coverage/

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Over 100 Broadsides Digitized

On March 5, 2014, in Broadsides, Digital Archives, by Amanda
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Civil Rights Era broadside. Call number: Broadside file/Civil rights/Folder 4/Undated 2 (MDAH)

Civil Rights Era broadside. Call number: Broadside file/Civil rights/Folder 4/Undated 2 (MDAH)

One hundred ten broadsides from the MDAH collection were recently scanned and linked to the online catalog. Broadsides are typically large sheets of paper printed on one side, and these selections cover topics from Mississippi politics to World War II to the Civil Rights Era and more. To explore the broadsides, visit the online catalog, select the “Advanced Search” tab, then limit the search by checking the “Broadsides” box. Click “Link to electronic resource” to view images of digitized broadsides.

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Group of people sitting in church pews. Call number: Z/2312.000, Series 3 (MDAH)

Group of people sitting in church pews. Call number: Z/2312.000, Series 3 (MDAH)

The Thomas Foner Freedom Summer Papers (Z/2312.000) were recently digitized. A New York native, Foner volunteered in Mississippi during the summer of 1964. He worked on voter registration in Canton and as a project leader in Philadelphia. His collection includes correspondence, a report on voter registration work in Canton, photographs, and newsclippings.

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Medgar Evers: Travels and Connections

On July 9, 2013, in Archives, by Dorian Randall
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The life of Medgar Evers is synonymous with the civil rights struggle and his strong leadership in the movement. This series, written by Dorian Randall, will explore his life, work, and legacy using related collections at MDAH. This is the final post of the series.

Travel was an important part of Medgar Evers’ duties as NAACP field secretary.

 

This matchbook from Philadelphia, PA and money clip from Minnesota were found in the desk drawer in Evers' NAACP office and could habe been picked up on his travels. Accession number: 2004.21.10 and 2004.21.3a. (Medgar Evers collection)

This matchbook from Philadelphia, PA and money clip from Minnesota were found in the desk drawer in Evers’ NAACP office and could have been picked up on his travels. Accession number: 2004.21.10 and 2004.21.3a. (Museum Division Collection)

Evers traveled around the state to increase membership at local branches and across the country to give speeches at meetings and conferences. In June 1956, Evers attended the NAACP’s forty-seventh annual meeting in San Francisco, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered an address championing direct action.1 In May1959, Evers spoke at the Los Angeles NAACP branch, and in September of that same year he traveled to Panama City, Florida to address the Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches.2 He made various political connections on these trips, forming a close relationship with U.S. Congressman Charles C. Diggs, Jr.

February 17, 1956 letter to Charles C. Diggs regarding voter registration. Call number: Z/2231.000/S, box 2, folder 4 (Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Papers)

February 17, 1956 letter to Charles C. Diggs regarding voter registration. Call number: Z/2231.000/S, box 2, folder 4 (Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Papers)

Diggs was a Michigan congressman and leader in African American voter registration. In 1956, Diggs and Evers wrote a series of letter to one another regarding intimidation and other illegal tactics that prevented voter registration for black Mississippians. Evers even introduced Diggs at a celebration for the third anniversary of the Brown ruling held at the Masonic Temple in Jackson.3

Evers and author James Baldwin.

Evers and author James Baldwin. Call number: Z.2231.4.009 (Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Papers)

Evers also connected with those in arts and entertainment. He met award-winning author James Baldwin of Harlem when Baldwin traveled to Jackson in 1962 in support of James Meredith, who had just enrolled at the University of Mississippi. “He had the calm of someone who knows they’re going to die before their time—like Martin Luther King,” Baldwin said of Evers.4 Baldwin accompanied Evers on a trip investigating a murder in rural Mississippi and the two men developed a close friendship. By then Baldwin was already an outspoken civil rights activist. His play Blues for Mister Charlie, which he began writing before Evers’ death in 1963, was based on the murder of Emmett Till. Baldwin said that when Evers died he “resolved that nothing under heaven would prevent me from getting this play done.”5 Baldwin dedicated Blues to Evers’ family and memory.


1 Michael V. Williams, Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2011), 132.
2 Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable, eds., The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero’s Life and Legacy revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2005), 140, 158.
3 Evers-Williams, The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, 72.
4 W.J. Weatherby, James Baldwin: Artist on Fire (New York: Donald I. Fine, Inc., 1989), 3.
5 Weatherby, James Baldwin, 237.

Medgar Evers: The NAACP and the Media

On June 26, 2013, in Archives, by Dorian Randall
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The life of Medgar Evers is synonymous with the civil rights struggle and his strong leadership in the movement. This series, written by Dorian Randall, will explore his life, work, and legacy using related collections at MDAH.

Mississippi media organizations played an essential role in maintaining the false perception of positive race relations in the state during the 1960s. Local officials presented an image of racial harmony and segregation as a voluntary act.1 Post-war era newspapers in the North and the South catered to white readership and rarely mentioned African Americans except in “Negro Editions.”2 The averaged newsroom was composed of a nearly all-white staff, but as nationwide desegregation efforts gained publicity in the 1950s and 1960s, Mississippi’s “closed society” was slowly crumbling. Medgar Evers helped reveal the truth about race relations in his home state.3

March 6, 1963 press release with handwritten edits form Evers and Aaron Henry to a Mississippi sheriff. Call number: Z/2231.000, box 2, folder 4 (Evers Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Papers, MDAH)

March 6, 1963 press release with handwritten edits from Evers and Aaron Henry to a Mississippi sheriff. Call number: Z/2231.000, box 3, folder 2 (Evers Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Papers, MDAH)

When Evers accepted the field secretary position with the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP in 1955, he was not only responsible for increasing membership in that group and investigating crimes against blacks, he also became a statewide spokesperson. Evers wrote many press releases and gave quotes to national news media. In a 1958 Ebony magazine interview, Evers expressed his love for Mississippi but also spoke of the trials that faced blacks in the state. “Now, when a Negro is mistreated, we try to tell the world about it,” he said.4 Evers and the NAACP publicized the facts ignored by mainstream media, shining a spotlight on the dire race situation in Mississippi. More and more, Evers’ work put him in the public eye. His notoriety would grow five years later.

The popularity of television proved crucial to Evers and the NAACP’s efforts to publicize racism in the state. He was already supporting, organizing, and participating in direct action demonstrations, but reaching more Mississippians meant putting a face to his name. In May 1963, he filmed an editorial for broadcast at the WLBT studios in Jackson. This was a controversial move for not only Evers but the station as well. In Changing Channels: The Civil Rights Case that Transformed Television, Kay Mills writes that WLBT was a symbol of dominant white rule because blacks were historically barred from on-and off-camera positions.5 That changed when Evers’ speech aired.

What then does the Negro want? He wants to get rid of racial segregation in Mississippi life because he knows it has not been good form him nor for the state. He knows that segregation is unconstitutional and illegal. While states may make laws and enforce certain local regulations none of these should be used to deprive any citizens of his rights under the Constitution.6

Evers had always pushed boundaries, and his television appearance was a landmark in Mississippi history. He petitioned station owners many times over the years, and his persistence ensured that the black perspective was broadcast to the masses.

To learn more about Evers’ presence in today’s media and culture, visit: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2013/06/02/medgar-evers-arts/2378249

 


1James W. Silver, Mississippi: The Closed Society (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1964), 4.
2David R. Davies, ed., The Press and Race: Mississippi Journalists and the Movement )Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001), 5-8.
3Michael V. Williams, Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2011), 88.
4Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable, eds., The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero’s Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2005), 116.
5Kay Mills, Changing Channels: The Civil Rights Case that Transformed Televison (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004), 14.
6Evers-Williams, The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, 282.