Crossroads to Freedom is a digital archive of materials that documents the Civil Rights era in Memphis, Tennessee. The purpose of the archive is to promote and support conversations in our community about the impact of this historical era on our city today. As Crossroads Fellows, selected Rhodes students contributed to all aspects of the project.
The archive includes interviews conducted by Rhodes students, the 1962 Hearings of the Commission on Civil Rights that took place in Memphis, 20 years of the Memphis World newspaper, and select materials from papers of civil rights pioneer Judge Russell Sugarmon.
The Beale Street collection features many different types of documents collected by the Beale Street Development Co. The documents, mostly from the 1950s-1960s, include grocery lists, posters, and contracts for entertainment at various clubs, including Club Handy, owned by Andrew "Sunbeam" Mitchell, a notable business owner in the area.
The Cleaborn Homes Collection includes interviews with former residents of the Cleaborn Homes housing project in Memphis, Tennessee. Cleaborn Homes were part of Memphis public housing, specifically Foote Homes, which were segregated in the 1960s, and retained a largely African-American population continuing through the 1990s. Built in 1955, the 460 unit public housing project has provided a neighborhood and housing for thousands of people over the years.
Residents were asked to leave the complex in 2010 and in March, 2011, demolition began. Now known as Cleaborn Pointe, the area has faced redevelopment, including the closing of Foote Homes. In these interviews, former residents discuss their time in Cleaborn, which was ' plagued by violence and the closing of businesses and schools. Former residents also describe the sense of community that Cleaborn Homes brought them during their time there.
Collection of oral histories conducted or filmed by the Crossroads to Freedom team of Rhodes College. In these interviews members of the Memphis community discuss a range of topics including Stax Records, the Civil Rights Movement, the life and assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, education, integration, race relations, and local neighborhood histories.
The Everett R. Cook Collection includes interviews conducted from 1979-2004 as part of the Everett R. Cook Oral History Collection on Civil Rights, made available through a partnership with the Memphis Public Library. The interviews describe the Vollintine-Evergreen neighborhood and surrounding areas, civil rights work in Memphis, and the Mid-Memphis Improvement Association (MMIA). Interviewees discuss their personal experiences with different civil rights groups, such as the NAACP, as well as working with notable civil rights figures for civil rights advancement in Memphis.
This collection of maps showing the geographic changes of Memphis over time in correlation with significant social factors.
The LeMoyne-Owen Collection consists of reflections written by students enrolled in Professor Michael P. Johnson's History 202 and 204 classes at LeMoyne-Owen College in the spring of 1968. Many of the students were eye-witnesses to the events that took place in Memphis during the Sanitation Workers' Strike. According to Professor Johnson, these reflections "represent history in its roughest form, direct and unedited statements of personal experiences." The reflections provide unique insight into the events that took place that day, and which led to the return of Martin Luther King, Jr. before his untimely death on April 4th, 1968.
The Russell B. Sugarmon Collection consists of a wide assortment of documents centered largely on the career of Judge Russell B. Sugarmon, a Memphis civil rights lawyer and activist. The documents—including letters, pamphlets, memos, campaign materials, and more—feature the contributions of many notable civil rights figures such as Jesse H. Turner, Roy Wilkins, and A.W. Willis, Jr. The collection focuses on the civil rights efforts made in Memphis and Shelby County.
Collection of interviews and news broadcasts covering Martin Luther King's assassination, the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike, and other civil rights related news and events. Audio collected by the Memphis Search for Meaning Committee from 1968-1973.
"The Memphis Search for Meaning Committee, a bi-racial, volunteer, non-profit, community research and study group which had spontaneously banded together immediately after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Conscious that, as Memphis citizens, we had been both witnesses to and participants in history, we had, for almost three years, been collecting material and information in an effort to achieve and communicate a fuller understanding of what had happened in our city and why it had happened."