Tennessee General Assembly Honors Fayette County Activists and the University of Memphis Hooks Institute with Resolution 

March 9, 2023 — The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed a resolution to honor the activists from the Fayette County Movement and the documentary, website and exhibitions created by the University of Memphis Hooks Institute to preserve and analyze the history of this movement. 

Senator Lamar London (Dist. 33, Shelby Co.) and Senator Page Walley (Dist. 26, includes Fayette Co.) sponsored the resolution. Before the General Assembly voted on the Resolution, Hooks Institute Executive Director Daphene R. McFerren made brief remarks on the critical importance of preserving this historical work to help ensure equity and social justice for future generations. Her remarks received a standing ovation from the General Assembly. 

The Hooks Institute extends its sincere gratitude to Senators Lamar and Walley for introducing the resolution, and to the Tennessee General Assembly for passing the resolution without opposition. 

The text of the resolution can be read here: capitol.tn.gov/Bills/113/Bill/SR0033.pdf.

The Hooks Institute and the Memphis International Airport co-host an exhibit featuring the Fayette County Civil Rights Movement through the photographs of freelance photographer Art Shay, displayed in the Departing Flights Terminal, across from the TSA office, at the Memphis International Airport. The public is able to view the exhibit without purchasing a ticket or going through TSA security checkpoints until Oct. 2023. 

About the Fayette County Civil Rights Movement 

Fayette County, Tennessee, is located approximately 50 miles east of Memphis. The Fayette County Civil Rights Movement took place from 1959 into the early 1970s. The initial goal of the movement was to register African Americans to vote. However, after many black residents were registered, many of whom were sharecroppers on farms owned by whites, they were evicted from housing that had been homes to many families for generations.  

Ultimately, the evicted families moved to farms of two African American landowners, with some living in erected tents from January 1960-April 1963. These tents became known both in the United States and internationally as “Tent City.” More information on the movement can be found on the Hooks Institute’s website for the movement at memphis.edu/tentcity

About the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change 

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues; implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposia and lectures; and promoting local and national scholarship on civil and human rights. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis. Contributed revenue for the Hooks Institute, including funding from individuals, corporations and foundations, is administered through the University of Memphis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. 

For more information, visit memphis.edu/benhooks