Freedom Riders

The Parchman Hour, photo by Chris Fowler

The Parchman Hour, photo by Chris Fowler

W. Eugene Smith’s tapes contain a lot of civil rights coverage that includes radio and television news, documentaries, and conversation. Recently we found a Channel 13 documentary segment about the Freedom Riders. This show contains several first hand accounts of the original Freedom Rides of 1961 as well as interviews with civil rights activists, commentary, and related music. Jerome Smith provides powerful testimony about the violence and challenges faced by the riders. He also provides some memories of working for civil rights here in North Carolina in general and in Greensboro, with an emphasis on grass roots change.  There’s some history of the New Orleans civil rights struggle from Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)  member Oretha Castle and she illuminates the positives effect that the Freedom Rides had on New Orleans and the state of civil rights in 1963.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field secretary Bob Moses was interviewed the day after the murder of Medgar Evers in June of 1963. He speaks thoughtfully and profoundly about the sacrifices of civil rights activists in Mississippi before describing the ongoing issues of fighting for civil rights at that time.

This week, fifty years after the first Freedom Rides in 1961,Center for Documentary Studies students and faculty are traveling through Mississippi  in partnership with Mike Wiley Productions and the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides. Their play is called  The Parchman Hour. . And here’s a Durham Herald Sun  article by Gregory Childress about this traveling production of the Parchman Hour. Follow the links to read more about it and to find out how to attend the events if you’re nearby. They’ll be on the road through the end of this week.

Great work here from our colleagues at the home of the Jazz Loft Project, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

-Dan Partridge

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