Contact: Daphene R. McFerren
July 24, 2014 - The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University
of Memphis, in cooperation with Tennessee History for Kids, will present in-service
training on the history of the civil rights movements in Fayette and Haywood counties
in Tennessee to Shelby County teachers on July 31 at White Station High School.
The Fayette and Haywood County movements began in the late 1950s when African-American
residents demanded the right to vote. African-Americans were swiftly retaliated against
by white residents for exercising this constitutional right. The Tennessee Department
of Education has mandated that all 11th-grade history curricula throughout the state
include instruction on these two significant movements.
The Hooks Institute has played a leading role among Tennessee institutions in preserving
and promoting the history of the Fayette County movement. The University of Memphis
Libraries’ Special Collections Department contains 19 cubic boxes of materials containing
civil rights activist newsletters and correspondence, copies of the official records
(including FBI reports from the 1950s and 1960s from the U.S. Department of Justice
investigation into retaliation against blacks), and video recordings of Fayette County
activists recounting their civil rights activities.
Daphene McFerren, director of the Hooks Institute and daughter of two of the movement
leaders, John and Viola McFerren, created the core of this collection as part of a
summer grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. A website on this movement
is being created by the Hooks Institute, working with Dr. Loel Kim, a faculty member
in the Department of English, McFerren, and Sasha Arnold, a masters of arts candidate
in literature at the U of M. This site is expected to be publicly launched later in
Dr. Richard Saunders, who received his PhD in history from the U of M and whose dissertation
was devoted to analyzing the civil rights history of Fayette and Haywood counties,
will team with McFerren, Kim and Arnold to present an overview of the civil rights
history of these counties and proposed approaches to teaching this history to high
Organized in 1996, the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change is an interdisciplinary
center at the University of Memphis. It was founded by the late Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks
and officials at the University. The Hooks Institute archives include Hooks’ personal
papers, which are housed in Special Collections.