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

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Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 4:51 pm  Comments Off on Purple Team Report: Resources and Questions  
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