Chloe Edwards, MDAH Electronic Records archivist, brings us this post in an ongoing series celebrating Electronic Records Day and Archives Month. The series features items from the MDAH disk collection.

 

Glass fragment from window of Beth Israel synagogue, which was bombed in 1967. Accession Number: 1984.55.11 (Museum Division Collection)

Glass fragment from window of Beth Israel synagogue, which was bombed in 1967. Accession Number: 1984.55.11 (Museum Division Collection)

A  Frightening Time: The Jackson Jewish Community, Rabbi Perry Nussbaum, and the Civil Rights Movement

Call no.: Disk 0041

Format: DVD

Run time: 13 minutes

Although Rabbi Perry Nussbaum retired as the leader of Jackson’s Beth Israel Congregation in 1973, he remains very much present in the memory of the community for his outspoken role in the Civil Rights Movement. Despite the active involvement of many Northern Jews on civil rights issues, the Jackson Jewish community was far more reticent, largely because its members were fearful of drawing the attention of the local Ku Klux Klan. Rabbi Nussbaum, however, harbored no such concerns, although he restrained his activism to sermonizing on segregation until 1961, when the Freedom Riders, many of whom were Jewish, arrived in Jackson.

After the Freedom Riders were sent to the state penitentiary, Rabbi Nussbaum attempted to organize Mississippi’s rabbis to visit the inmates. When they refused, Rabbi Nussbaum began making weekly visits to Parchman alone, at his own expense, and without the knowledge of his congregation. He led a brief service and took down riders’ names and addresses so that he could write to their parents, both Jewish and non-Jewish, assuring them that their children were incarcerated, but alive and well.

As the movement grew more heated, the rabbi became more outspoken. In 1964, Nussbaum helped organize an interracial group of ministers that raised funds to rebuild churches bombed by white supremacist groups. He also presided over an interracial dedication ceremony for the synagogue’s new building in the late fall of 1967, which proved to be the final straw for the local Klan—the synagogue was bombed on September 18, 1967. Three days after the bombing of the temple, the Greater Jackson Clergy Alliance held an interracial, interreligious Walk of Penance as an expression of sorrow and solidarity with the Jackson Jewish community. Two months later, Rabbi Nussbaum’s home was bombed, although both he and his wife escaped injury (shown above). Nussbaum felt strongly that anti-Semitism, not his outspoken activism, was the reason for both attacks and sought to leave Jackson. He was unable to find another post, however, and remained at Beth Israel until his retirement in 1973. In the course of nineteen years at the synagogue, he also reintroduced elements of traditional Jewish worship and established an adult education program. Nussbaum died of cancer in San Diego, California, in 1987.

The documentary A Frightening Time, produced by Jackson’s Institute for Southern Jewish Life, discusses the bombing of Beth Israel through interviews with older congregants, and also includes archival footage of the Walk of Penance and Rabbi Nussbaum. The documentary was produced as part of the fortieth anniversary commemoration of the bombings and was shown as part of the program.

MORE INFORMATION:

To find out more about this disk, search our online catalogue for disk 0041. 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 or listen to in the Media Room; patrons should request disks from media staff using the four digit call number.

VIEWING NOTES:

Although the documentary appears to have a running time of twenty minutes, the film ends at approximately 00:13:00.

References:

“Congregation Beth Israel.” Accessed October 6, 2014 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregation_Beth_Israel_%28Jackson,_Mississippi%29

“Rabbi Perry Nussbaum Dies; Activist in South during 1960s Racial Unrest.” Los Angeles Times, April 13, 1987. Accessed October 6, 2014, http://articles.latimes.com/1987-04-13/news/mn-496_1_rabbi-perry-nussbaum

Rockoff, Stuart. “Nussbaum, Perry.” Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed October 6, 2014 at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0015_0_14986.html

Image: http://www.isjl.org/mississippi-jackson-beth-israel-encyclopedia.html

Caption: Rabbi and Mrs. Nussbaum in their home after the bombing.

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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.