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Editor of Hands on the Freedom Plow Will Speak at U of M Nov. 9th; Book is the 2010 Benjamin L. Hooks National Book Award Winner

For release: October 14, 2011
For press information, contact Daphene R. McFerren, 901-678-3974

Judy Richardson, one of six editors of Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC, will speak Nov. 9 at the University of Memphis.  She will discuss the 52 personal narratives of workers for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that make up this publication.  Her talk will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the University Center Bluff Room (Room 304).  A reception will precede the lecture.  Both are free and open to the public.

Hands on the Freedom Plow won the Benjamin L. Hooks National Book Award for the best book published in 2010 that furthers our understanding of the American civil rights movement.  It was selected from 30 books nominated from prestigious university presses and other publishing houses throughout the United States.   

Hands on the Freedom Plow gathers the voices of women who provided the civil rights movement’s backbone.  “The women of SNCC were tough-minded, yet sensitive, grounded in a vision that freedom was not only external, in terms of defining a space in the SNCC collective and larger society, but also internal, in terms of defining who we were as females,” wrote Gwen Patton in the book’s concluding essay.  Despite their myriad experiences, the contributors to this impressively organized volume share an expansive vision of freedom.           

Judy Richardson founded Drum & Spear Bookstore in Washington, D.C., in 1968; at that time, it was the country’s largest African-American bookstore.  She later founded and served as editor of Drum & Spear Press.  She transitioned from publishing to a film career at Blackside Productions and played a pivotal role in producing the award-winning documentary series Eyes on the Prize, as well as a number of other historical documentaries.  She currently lectures and conducts teacher workshops across the country on the modern civil rights movement.  She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her lecture is sponsored by the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change and is being held in conjunction with the annual conference of the Graduate Association for African-American History.

In 1996 University of Memphis officials received approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents to create the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change in the College of Arts & Sciences.  The mission of the Institute is teaching, studying, and promoting civil rights and social change.  The Institute’s archives include Dr. Hooks’ personal papers, which are housed in the Mississippi Valley Collection in the University’s McWherter Library.

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