Life Today, History Tomorrow

Through my research experiences with Crossroads to Freedom I have recognized how people casually visualize their lives and their day to day actions in connection with larger events in the world. It seems as if even the most spectacular things become ordinary and they are faded out in memory because in their minds it lacks importance and relevance. They live their lives and see it as just doing that- living. They hardly recognize their impact of their daily decisions, their interactions with others. Reginald Howard’s favorite past time and hobby of playing baseball made him a witness with a primary personal account of the change that happened to the Negro League during segregation. Because of his experiences alone, he has given generations an untampered view that would have otherwised been replicated in a text book by a third party who collected documents and summarized based upon research. Even the smallest things like being present appear grand and transform future events through ripple effects of influence. How do we as people see ourselevs? view our actions? Are we self indulged and view our lives as only an extension of our desires and needs? For instance, when choosing our careers do we even contemplate the people we will be servicing or connected to? We all make a contribution no matter what field we work in. What is yours? mine? Do I even measure my actions and how they may effect others?

Talking to people like Robert Atkins, Bill Short, Rita Kendrick, and many more  has truly been inspriring. They allow me to place things in perspective not only for my job but for my life as well. How was Rita Kendrick suppossed to know that the shade of her skin and the dicrimination she received from different races even her own would help the students she transcend pride and beauty.

Grassroot soldiers and ordinary heroes become bigger than life just by living life. They are history untold.

Tiffani

Published in: on July 8, 2009 at 12:18 pm  Comments Off  

Chronology of Evergreen History

This week, as a member of the purple team I, along with the team have been working hard to establish some concrete connections to the Evergreen community. We have been doing a lot of leg work. One of the preliminary measures we have taken is to create a chronology of the Evergreen history. Of course there is much to include, however this is a starting list. I, along with Mac, worked on this and have attempted to include the most pertinent points in the history. Everyone is welcome to comment if you discover that you have more information to include.

Courtney Waters and Mackenzie Zalin

Chronology of Evergreen Neighborhood

Compiled by Mackenzie Zalin & Courtney Waters
Last updated: June 17, 2009
Crossroads to Freedom

Year

Event

1819

Founding of Memphis

1900

Creation of Memphis Park Commission by State

1901

Area currently known as Overton Park acquired by City; development of Evergreen occurs immediately thereafter when Robert Galloway builds house on Dewey Street (now Galloway) (T11). Growth based largely upon extension of Memphis Street Railway lines further east on Poplar on the Raleigh Springs line.   

1906

Memphis Zoo founded

1909

Woman’s Evergreen Improvement Club founded. Later changed to Woman’s Evergreen Club in mid 1920’s.

1910

Snowden Elementary School opens

1916

Brooks Art Gallery constructed in Overton Park

1925

Rhodes College (then Southwestern) moves from Clarksville to Memphis, just north of neighborhood

1926

Park Commission purchases Williamson Park “in order to prevent the sale and use of the property for Negro tenement houses” (T29).

1935

Men’s and Women’s branches of Evergreen Club merge

Early 50’s

Bureau of Public Roads accepts so-called Bartholomew Plan to build an expressway (now I-40) surrounding and intersecting Memphis

1957

Committee to Preserve Overton Park (CPOP) created. ‘Committee’ changed to ‘Citizens’ in 1964

1968

City supports federal decision to build east-west segment of I-40 through Overton Park. Private groups (i.e. CPOP et al.) continue to oppose public consensus.

1968

Mid-Memphis Improvement Association (MMIA) formed, predecessor of Evergreen Historic District Association (EHDA)

1969

CPOP files suit against City Council

1970

Vollintine Evergreen Community Action (VECA) established

1970

Supreme Court hears CPOP case to prevent construction of I-40 through Overton Park.

1971

Supreme Court sends case back to lower court. Decision considered a victory for Evergreen, although controversial. Case stagnates in court for remainder of decade as does vacant corridor intended for I-40.

1973

Plan Z goes into effect, which pairs Vollintine/Snowden schools without changing official boundaries. Measure created in order to better integrate schools

1979

Overton Park Historic District joins National Register of Historic Places

1979

Evergreen down-zoned to single family area

1984

Neighborhood officially changes name to Evergreen Historic District

1985

Evergreen placed on National Register of Historic Places

1986

Federal government returns I-40 corridor to city/state 

1989

City Council Approves Evergreen’s Historic Conservation Zoning

1991

Construction of new homes begins in I-40 corridor

 

Sources:

Tilly, Bette B and Pat Faudree. Yesterday’s Evergreen, Today’s Mid-Memphis. Memphis, TN: Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA), 1980.

“Mid Town Corridor West Redevelopment.”

“Chronology: Overton Park Development.”

“Corridor Chronology.”

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 3:28 pm  Comments (1)  

Purple Team Update: Evergreen Work

Prior to our meeting last Friday with the entire Crossroads Project, I was concerned that the Purple Team’s preliminary investigation of the Evergreen Collection at the Memphis/Shelby County Room would offer little insight into the civil rights era. Standing before an audience composed of our peers, the vice president for college relations, Dr. Wigginton, as well as a distinguished historian and alumna, I thought that we would be quickly but politely urged to yield the floor to our colleagues in the green and gold teams, whose efforts were more decidedly focused towards the master narrative of the civil rights movement and its tangible links to the Memphis community at large. All of us were surprised and delighted to discover that the direction of our research concerning one of the most historic neighborhoods in Memphis evoked such genuinely curious and enthusiastic responses from the audience. In particular, I was struck by the relevance of the same questions the green and gold teams are confronting in their research of Hyde Park and online social networks to our own research into the role of community in instigating lasting change beyond the ordinary channels of city, state and federal government.

Reinvigorated by the support of the administration and the possibility of demonstrating the connections between urbanization and integration in our own backyard, the Purple Team has set about examining the physicality of Evergreen in order the lay the framework for more detailed investigation in subsequent weeks. We are currently in the process of scanning maps and information concerning the change in zoning and boundaries over the last hundred years in the neighborhood. In addition to creating a broad chronology of the neighborhood’s diverse history from its foundation to the civil rights movement and to the more recent I-40 controversy, we are working to create a Google map that profiles the shift in boundaries as well as the varied zoning regulations in Evergreen.

Although this current undertaking is certainly valuable in its own right, I’m still struggling to figure out how Evergreen fits into the master narrative of the Crossroads database, especially given the dearth of civil rights era materials in any of the documents or literature we have surveyed thus far in the closed collections at the Memphis Public Library as well as the widely-circulated published materials. What does the absence of precise dates regarding the desegregation of Overton Park, Snowden Elementary, and the Memphis Zoo say about integration and this critical aspect of the neighborhood’s history? Granted it is still very early in our research, so I look forward to answering such questions as the weeks progress.

Mack Zalin
Purple Team

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm  Comments Off  

Purple Team Report: Resources and Questions

Greetings from the Digital Media Lab at Rhodes College, one of the bases of operation for the Purple Team of the Crossroads to Freedom Project! Over the next eight weeks, it will be our task as the Project’s main archivists to research the role of the Evergreen Community within the context of the Civil Rights Movement here in midtown Memphis. In addition to supplementing the work of the Gold and Green teams in their investigation of Hyde Park and the development of social networks, we will spend most of our time researching at the Memphis and Shelby County Room at the Memphis Public Library.

Although we have yet to explore the Everett R. Cook and Evergreen Collections, the basis of our study this summer, there has been no shortage of fascinating subjects which will doubtlessly occupy much of our time spent in the archives over the coming weeks. After inspirational and thought provoking forays into Memphis history at the National Civil Rights Museum and Hyde Park last week, I feel that I as an historian am now fairly well equipped to contextualize the traditional master narrative of the Civil Rights Movement in terms of the development of the city and the nation. Ironically, the more I study the highlights of this master narrative, the more I am intrigued by the “footnotes” of this complex history and their far-reaching implications, which are all too often relegated to isolated corners of obscure texts with few explicit associations to the supporting monuments of the era. For example, what do images of Overton Park from the early 20th century in William Bearden’s 2004 book in the Images of America series tell us about segregation, integration, and the role of race in modern urbanization?

In accordance with the Project’s commitment to preserving the complexity of the Civil Rights Movement while emphasizing the indispensable role of communities in bringing about revolutionary changes across a broad social and chronological spectrum, it will be our task to provide a framework for future areas of investigation of importance to Crossroads; the Evergreen District represents an ideal case study as “a microcosm of the American community in the troubled sixties” (37) according to Yesterday’s Evergreen (Tilly 1980: 37). The focus of our study has yet to be fully honed, but I’m very much looking forward to discovering more about this dynamic area of the city.

Mack Zalin

Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 4:51 pm  Comments Off  
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