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Oral History

Catherine Burks-Brooks, 1939-2023

Catherine Burks-Brooks made a terrific self-portrait on May 28, 1961. There was, for sure, someone else in the Jackson police station who snapped the shutter, but the photograph is all Catherine conspiring with the camera to let us know what’s what. Sixty-two years later, her message seems as clear, and as relevant, as ever.  Burks-Brooks […]

Rev. C.T. Vivian, 1924-2020

C. T. Vivian was the old man of the dream team that magically assembled in Nashville in the late 1950s. He was even older, by four years, than James Lawson, the expert in nonviolent direct action and ostensible adult in the room. Vivian was 35 in the fall of 1959, almost half a generation older […]

“We Want Our Freedom Now!” John Lewis, 1940-2020

John Lewis arrived in Jackson, Mississippi, on May 24, 1961, in the first wave of Freedom Riders to arrive in the state. He was 21, but like so many Riders he was already a veteran of nonviolent direct action. A member of the famed Nashville Student Movement, he had participated in numerous sit-in actions the […]

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