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 on Purple Team Update: Evergreen Work  
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