Battling the Plantation Mentality
Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Introduction: Migration, Memory, and Freedom in the Urban Heart of the Delta
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...“The struggle was we didn’t have a water fountain! No water fountain in 1965!” Sally Turner, a mother of twelve and retired worker who had labored at the Farber Brothers automobile accessories plant in Mem-phis from the 1960s to the 1980s, raised her voice to a shout when she re-sponded during a 1995 oral history interview to a query about why she had ...
1 Memphis before World War II: Migrants, Mushroom Strikes, and the Reign of Terror
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...to a man who had promised to help her get registered African Ameri-cans out to vote. “Miss Bryant, I ain’t going to be able to vote with you,” he confessed. “The boss says I got to vote the way he says.” His statement dismayed but did not surprise her. After migrating to Memphis from Greenwood, Mississippi, in January 1936, Bryant had registered to vote, ...
2 Where Would the Negro Women Apply for Work?: Wartime Clashes over Labor, Gender, and Racial Justice
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In a letter to Franklin Roosevelt, Altha Sims described a visit to the Memphis U.S. Employment Service (uses) offi ce, where she was “coldly refused by a lady” who informed her that “there was not defense work for Negro woman.” Written in July 1942, a year after the president, under pressure from African Americans, issued an executive order ban-...
3 Moral Outrage: Postwar Protest against Police Violence and Sexual Assault
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...awaited a bus at the corner of Poplar and Cleveland in midtown Memphis. According to their sworn statements, made later before a white attorney retained by the naacp, Alice Wright and Annie Mae Williams had just fi n-ished their shifts as dishwasher and cook at Fred’s Café and were headed home to the working-class Binghampton neighborhood, a few miles east ...
4 Night Train, Freedom Train: Black Youth and Racial Politics in the Early Cold War
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...recently, I found myself humming and refl ecting on Roy Acuff’s classic invi-tation: ‘Take that night train to Memphis / Take that night train to Memphis / I’ll be waiting at the station,’” wrote LeMoyne College student Charles E. Lincoln for the LeMoyne Democrat, a campus newspaper, in February 1946. He contrasted Acuff’s country music lyrics about a much-anticipated ro-...
5 Our Mental Liberties: Banned Movies, Black-Appeal Radio, and the Struggle for a New Public Sphere
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Beacon that excoriated the Memphis Board of Censors for its “mental pro-cesses.”1 The board’s notorious chairman, Lloyd T. Binford, according to the article, had once again exhibited his capricious logic by banning the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture Lost Boundaries, about a light-complexioned African American doctor who “passes” as white in order ...
6 Rejecting Mammy: The Urban-Rural Road in the Era of Brown v. Board of Education
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...implement its momentous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, declar-ing that desegregation of public schools should proceed at “all deliberate speed,” the eyes of many black Memphians turned briefl y in a different direction, to the case of the “Patio 6.” The appellation referred to a group of six black employees of Joel’s Patio, a downtown Memphis café serving ...
7 We Were Making History: Students, Sharecroppers, and Sanitation Workers in the Memphis Freedom Movement
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...“Applause literally rocked Mason Temple,” exclaimed the Tri-State Defender in a report on a “Freedom Rally” for the Volunteer Ticket, July 31, 1959, that drew 5,000 black Memphians to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and local speakers. “Thunder-ous applause” repeatedly interrupted black Memphis political candidates ...
8 Battling the Plantation Mentality: From the Civil Rights Act to the Sanitation Strike
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Eight and a half years after a spirited rally of 5,000 African Ameri-can voters in 1959 prompted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to spontaneously predict that “Something is going to happen,” King once again stood be-fore a huge crowd of Memphians. This time, on March 18, 1968, 15,000 people crammed into the same cavernous Mason Temple to hear King ...
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...movement had their eyes trained on the present and future of American society and of their own lives, yet their understandings of freedom had emerged out of years of struggle with what many identifi ed as the “planta-tion mentality.” For urban black southerners in the mid-twentieth century, many of them migrants from the rural South, critiques of the “plantation ...
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As I call to mind the Memphians and non-Memphians who supported this project, I realize that my words here will no doubt fall short of the gratitude I feel, both to university scholars and to people whose life work lies far from the university.I fi rst wish to thank the women and men whose struggles, stories, and refl ections became central to this project. Each interview became far more than a gathering ...
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Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 25 illus., 3 maps
Publication Year: 2007
Series Title: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture