Tag Archives: diane nash

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Victims Granted Congressional Gold Medals

13 Sep
Clockwise from top left: Cynthia Wesley (14), Carol Robertson (14), Denise McNair (11) and Addie Mae Collins (14) were the four innocent little girls killed at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963, (Photo byThePeoplesChampion.me)

Clockwise from top left: Cynthia Wesley (14), Carol Robertson (14), Denise McNair (11) and Addie Mae Collins (14) the four young girls killed by a bomb planted by the Klan at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963, (Photo byThePeoplesChampion.me)

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. That event, coming so soon after the triumphant March on Washington, was a traumatic event of racially motivated domestic terrorism which took the lives of four young girls, Cynthia Wesley, Carl Robertson, Denise McNair, and Addie Mae Collins. Several other people were injured, including Addie Mae Collins’ sister, Sarah Collins Rudolph. As part of the ceremonies marking this somber anniversary, the four girls have been granted Congressional Gold Medals, the highest honor a civilian can receive.

Although one of the most shocking and deadly attacks of the civil rights movement this was not the first bomb to go off in Birmingham, known as “Bombingham,” in the African American community. From 1947 to 1965 Birmingham was the site of over fifty racially motivated bombings or attacks, and many of these were directed at civil rights leaders and their supporters whose houses and businesses were the targets. The list of these attacks leading up to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing include explosions at A. G. Gaston’s motel, and at the homes of Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and Dr. Martin Luther King, among many others.

Still the city was shocked when on September 15, 1963 a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama and killed the four young girls. This event was a pivotal turning point in the civil rights movement, and was discussed in many of the interviews conducted for Eyes on the Prize. After the event, the city existed in a precarious position for days, amidst riots and violent clashes. Burke Marshall, who was  the head of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice described the situation in his interview:

There was a feeling of real bitter outrage at the killing of those four little girls—church bombing and of course there was an enormous reaction in Birmingham. The president asked me to go down there and I went down there immediately. When I got to Birmingham I found—I thought I was in a city under siege. There—the black community had set up guards to prevent people from coming into it. They were afraid. They didn’t know what would happen, they were afraid the Klan had gone wild. And that they would come in with other violence. So that you had to go through a cordon, in order to get into the black community. When I got there, I called Martin King immediately, who was there, and arranged to meet him. He was in a house in the black community. The Bureau didn’t want to take me there, because there were no black Bureau agents, and driving white, cop-looking people, driving into the black neighborhood at that time, [was] sort of like an act of war. So that Martin King, or somebody, Arthur Shores, somebody there, arranged for some black civil defense workers, who were acting as sort of guard, to come get me, at my hotel, and I they gave me a white helmet, and sort of shoveled me down in the back seat, so that my face couldn’t be seen, and drove me into the neighborhood, into the house where, I think it was John Drew’s house, where Martin was staying, and then we had a long meeting about what to do. The president had choices to make, that were important choices, should he do something militarily? The city might explode, and it would be possible to do something militarily. Martin King, I think, favored that notion at first. I was against it, because I knew that it the military came in, they would declare martial law. And blacks, as well as whites, would be confined to their houses, nobody would be able to protest anything. And having the military run a civil rights movement is a terrible step to take, if it can be avoided. The president did move some troops down near Birmingham, as sort of a symbolic gesture, of federal force, if the state authorities didn’t behave themselves.

Interview with Burke Marshall,  conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 4, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

A. G. Gaston, an African American businessman who was active in the Birmingham movement and a supporter of Martin Luther King, described negotiations he attended with Martin Luther King and President Kennedy,

Well, that was when I-the time that the black was just about ready to do some fighting back, ’cause they had bombs, they had dynamite stuff stored up around. Some of it was around our place, there. And I could see, with dynamite in the hands of blacks who were very upset at that period, and the Klan, who was prepared, for those two coming together.

Interview with A. G. Gaston,  conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 1, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

Diane Nash, a civil rights activist and member of SNCC, described her reaction to the event in her interview,

Well, on the Sunday when the girls had been killed in the bombing in church, in Birmingham, my former husband and I, Jim Bevel, were sitting in Golden Frank’s living room. There was a voter registration campaign going on currently, that we were involved in, and we were crying, because in many ways we, we felt like our own children had been killed. We knew that the activity of the civil rights movement had been involved in generating a kind of energy that brought out this kind of hostility. And we decided that we would do something about it, and we said that we had two options. The first one was, we felt confident that if we tried, we could find out who had done it, and we could make sure they got killed. And we considered that as a real option. And the second option was, that we felt that if blacks in Alabama had the right to vote, that they could protect black children. And we deliberately made a choice, and chose the second option. And, at that time, promised ourselves and each other, that if it took twenty years, or as long as it took, we weren’t going to stop working on it and trying, until Alabama blacks had the right to vote.

Interview with Diane Nash,  conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 12, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

Despite the great amount of tension, there was no violent retaliation against the bombers. Early on, one of the main suspects of the bombing, Robert Chambliss, a Klan member was identified as the one who placed the bomb under the steps of the church. He was arrested but only charged with possession of a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without a permit. He received a short sentence and fine for this at the time, but then the case was dropped.

David Vann, a local attorney, described seeing Chambliss at the scene of the bombing on September 15, 1963,

Well, I first learned of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church just about five minutes to noon, when I was leaving my church on the south side, Hallowed Methodist, and someone was there…said that there had been this bombing at the church. I got in my car, and I immediately drove down to see what had happened, and they had it blocked off, all roads blocked off a block away, so you couldn’t get within a block. I remember I was driving south on 19th Street, which was two blocks from the church, and there on the corner, stood Mr. Chambliss, a known Klansman, watching all of the commotion, and excitement and fire trucks and things that were coming and going. I remember then, thinking that he looked like a fire bug watching his fire. And of course, several years later he was convicted of being a participant in the bombing.

Interview with David Vann, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 1, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

The reasons it took so long to get a conviction are many. One was the tendency of local law enforcement to not aggressively pursue cases where the victims were African American. The other involved the a disinclination of the FBI to release information they had to local or federal officials looking into the case. Reluctance of local witnesses to testify was also a factor in the case.

David Vann, who was the mayor of Birmingham when the case was reopened in the 1970s, addressed the case in his interview,

Well, one of the main reasons it was a long time before he was brought to trial is the FBI was called in by the city to do the initial investigation, and there was such a degree of distrust between the Birmingham Police Department and the FBI, that the FBI and the Justice Department would never give any of the records to to either the State of Alabama or the City of Birmingham…I know the policy of protecting informants had a great deal to [do] with the FBI policy in those days. But it wasn’t until after Jimmy Carter became President, the Attorney General of the state, Bill Baxley, and myself, put all the pressure we could on the new Attorney General and they did agree to allow a review of those records, by the state Attorney General’s office, and within about six months prosecution was begun of Mr. Chambliss. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the FBI at least claimed that they had lost a lot of their records, and most of the physical evidence that the FBI collected at the scene that day, was nowhere to be found.

Interview with David Vann, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 1, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

Burke Marshall also commented on the case and the political climate of that time,

Now the Bureau, I think, knew who did that bombing. It certainly turned out in the end that they knew who did that bombing. They, they never gave us the Civil Rights Division, they never gave the Department of Justice a case to prosecute, or identified to the Civil Rights Division the person that, that did the bombing. He was eventually prosecuted by state authorities. That was a terrible event, a terrible event, because of its cruelty, its futility, its senselessness, and everybody in the administration felt that, just the same way that everybody, at least every sensitive person, civilized person, in Birmingham, white as well as black, thought. It was horrifying event.

Interview with Burke Marshall,  conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 4, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

In the end, three other men were identified as having participated in the bombing, Thomas E. Blanton, Jr, Herman Cash, and Bobby Frank Cherry. Over the course of many years and trials, two of the other suspects, Thomas E. Blanton, Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry were convicted and sentenced to life in jail. Herman Cash died in 1994 without being convicted.

The event and location are now recognized as a major turning point in the fight for civil rights. The event has been the subject of numerous books and films including Spike Lee’s acclaimed documentary, Four Little Girls, and in 2006, the 16th Street Baptist Church is declared a national historic landmark, With the recognition of the Congressional Gold Medal for the four girls, they can be fully recognized and honored fifty years after this tragic event.

Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement

12 Jul
Interviewees from "Eyes on the Prize." Top row (left to right): Diane Nash, Melba Pattillo Beals, Rosa Parks. Bottom row (left to right): Eliza Briggs, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Casey Hayden.

Interviewees from “Eyes on the Prize.” Top row (left to right): Diane Nash, Melba Pattillo Beals, Rosa Parks. Bottom row (left to right): Eliza Briggs, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Casey Hayden.

A recent NPR piece, Mary Hamilton, The Woman Who Put the “Miss” in Court, told the story of Mary Hamilton whose refusal to answer a judge who only referred to her by her first name led to a Supreme Court Case. The final ruling in the case was that people in court deserve to be addressed by titles (Miss, Mrs., or Mr.) regardless of their race or position in society.

Mary Hamilton was a civil rights activist, a Freedom Rider, and  a field organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The article quotes historian Tara White,

Historian Tara White researches women in the civil rights movement. She says part of the reason is that in that time period, women just weren’t in prominent roles. Journalists compounded that by gravitating to male leaders. But White says without women, there would have been no movement.

“The majority of the folks who were doing the day-to-day work were women. The majority of the people who were participating in protest marches and those kinds of things were women,” White says.

While it is true that women were doing the day-to-day administrative work, and participating in mass protests, there were female leaders in the civil rights movement. In fact, in many cases women were the leaders and instigating forces in major milestones in the movement. Jo Ann Robinson organized the initial city-wide boycott in Montgomery sparked by Rosa Park’s action to not move from her seat on the bus.

A young student leader, Diane Nash, was involved in planning and leading marches in the Nashville sit-ins and later the in Freedom Rides. Nash was the person who confronted the mayor of Nashville, Ben West, with the question,  “Do you feel it is wrong to discriminate against a person solely on the basis of their race or color?” And he was forced to acknowledge that he did feel it was wrong bringing the boycott to a successful conclusion.

Fannie Lou Hamer, a leader in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) famously confronted the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in 1964 by reporting what conditions were like in Mississippi for African Americans and asking,

“All of this is on account we want to register [sic], to become first-class citizens, and if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings – in America?”

In Eyes on the Prize, Henry Hampton sought to make a documentary that would fully recognize the previously unknown or unacknowledged women and men who made up the movement in addition to the leaders. But it would not be accurate to say that women were not in leadership roles in the civil rights movement. Blackside often interviewed people who had not been recognized in the official history of the civil rights movement. Jo Ann Robinson, for example, had never been interviewed about her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott before Eyes on the Prize.

The focus on charismatic and important leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X does not cancel out the leadership of the women in the movement. The lack of  historical focus on women’s role in the civil rights movement does leave a large unexplored area of research for enterprising scholars, historians, and writers. The Film & Media Archive holds many primary documents from this era including the interviews mentioned above. For more information see the complete interviews from Eyes on the Prize.

Will Campbell, civil rights activist and minister, dies at 88

6 Jun

Image from Interview with Reverend Will Campbell, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 3, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years (1954-1965)

Reverend Will D. Campbell, an unconventional minister at odds with his native segregated South, has died at age 88. Campbell, the son of a farmer, was born in Mississippi and became an ordained minister when he was 17.  He served in the Army during World War II, and went on to attend various universities including Tulane University and Yale Divinity School.

His pastoral career was derailed by his opposition of segregation and his dedication to civil rights. A position as University Chaplain at the University of Mississippi ended with death threats towards Campbell because of his views. According to John Lewis, Campbell was fired because he played ping-pong with an African American janitor.

After leaving the University of Mississippi, Campbell moved to Nashville. From then on, he was involved in almost every major campaign in the civil rights movement, beginning with the student sit-ins in Nashville, the Little Rock school integration crisis in 1957, the Freedom Rides, the March from Selma to Montgomery, and many others. Campbell was also invited by Martin Luther King, Jr. to attend the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Campbell was interviewed for the Blackside’s landmark series on the  civil right movement, Eyes on the Prize. In his interview he talked about the events surrounding the sit-ins in Nashville,

Mr. Z. Alexander Looby, who was a great man, a black attorney, conservative politically, a Lincoln Republican of many years–no  one could accuse him of being a, a wild eyed radical politically–and when his house was bombed or dynamited, I think it, it solidified especially the black community, and it enraged a segment of the white community in a fashion that nothing else had.There was the mass march to City Hall and there was a white Mayor who came out there and who with considerable prodding from that brilliant and beautiful leader named Diane Nash, who kept pushing him, “But, Mr. Mayor, you are our Mayor. Sir, do you think that segregation is morally defendable?” And he eventually had to say, I do not. Now that, in my judgment, was the turning point. That encounter was a turning point.

Interview with Reverend Will Campbell, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 3, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

Campbell went on to be involved in the protests against the Vietnam War. He also was the author of several books, including a memoir, Brother to a Dragonfly (1977) which was a National Book Award Finalist.

Women in the Civil Rights Movement

15 Mar
Interviewees from "Eyes on the Prize." Top row (left to right): Diane Nash, Melba Pattillo Beals, Rosa Parks. Bottom row (left to right): Eliza Briggs, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Casey Hayden.

Interviewees from “Eyes on the Prize.” Top row (left to right): Diane Nash, Melba Pattillo Beals, Rosa Parks. Bottom row (left to right): Eliza Briggs, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Casey Hayden.

The role of women in the civil rights movement is often underrepresented and overlooked. When someone thinks of the movement the names that come to mind are usually male, Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael, or Malcolm X. Luckily for historians and scholars there are quite a few resources out there about women in the civil rights movement. When filmmaker Henry Hampton made his groundbreaking series on the civil rights movement, Eyes on the Prize, he chose to tell the stories of the people who made up the movement, not necessarily the leaders of the movement. Hampton’s friend and coworker at the Unitarian Universalist Association, Bob Hohler gave a talk at Washington University where he spoke about Hampton’s plan for his film about the civil rights movement. Hampton originally had a deal with Capital Cities Communications in 1978. Hohler recalled,

Henry and his staff discussed possibilities and he proposed a series on the civil rights movement. He told them of his Selma experience, of walking across that bridge and thinking what a great, dramatic film it would make. Telling the story through the eyes of the people who lived it. In fact, telling the entire story of the civil rights movement from their point of view.

–Bob Hohler (University Libraries National Council Meeting, Washington University in St. Louis, September 20, 2002)

The deal with Capital Cities Communications fell through in part because they wanted Hampton to focus on the leaders of the movement rather than the everyday people who made up the mass marches and protests. Hampton was ahead of his time, both in how he ran his production teams with a mixture of men and women, African Americans and whites, and in the people he chose to interview for the series.

Some people such as Fannie Lou Hamer had already died by the time Hampton began to make Eyes on the Prize, but footage of Hamer’s speech before the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, August 22, 1964 as a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was a major part of Episode 5: Mississippi: Is This America? (1962-1964). Six of the Little Rock Nine, young students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, were young women and Hampton’s production company Blackside interviewed several members of that group including Melba Pattillo Beals and Thelma Mothershed Wair. Pattillo Beals’ interview was a major part of Episode 2: Fighting Back (1957-1962) about the school integration crisis in Little Rock. Diane Nash, was a young student at Fisk University in Nashville when she became involved in the sit-in movement and eventually challenged Mayor West of Nashville during a protest march asking him directly if he thought it was wrong to discriminate against someone solely on their race. Mayor West agreed that it was not morally right to discriminate in that way and that statement was an important moment in that campaign which was successful in desegregating the lunch counters and public facilities in Nashville. Nash went on the work for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was heavily involved in the Freedom Rides.

Other women from the civil rights movement that were interviewed by Blackside include Mississippi activist, Unita Blackwell (note: Blackwell was interviewed several times by Blackside), Eliza Briggs, one of the plaintiffs in Briggs v. Elliott, a case which challenged the segregated school system, Virginia Durr, an activist from Montgomery, Rosa Parks, who famously sparked the Montgomery Buy Boycott, Casey Hayden, another SNCC member, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Sweet Honey in the Rock singer and activist, and many others.

Many of these interviews’ transcripts are available to read online: Eyes on the Prize: The Complete Series, but there are many other interviews and resources on women in the civil rights movement at the Film and Media Archive. A good place to start researching is our online catalog, but researchers can always contact the Film Archive directly with questions.

Ella Baker and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

15 Feb
Ella Baker

Ella Baker

Ella Baker was a civil rights activist who helped found and organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Her name is not as well-known as many of the other leaders of the civil rights movement but she played a pivotal role in many organizations and campaigns from the 1940s onward. Born in 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia. Ella Baker had a long history of working as an organizer and activist before founding SNCC in 1960. She worked for the NAACP in the 1940s and then with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) founded in part by Martin Luther King, Jr. beginning in 1957. Then in the spring of 1960 a wave of student protests began, starting with a group of students who refused to leave a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960. Similar protests began occurring in Nashville, Tennessee led by students from local university’s including Fisk University.

Ain’t Scared of Your Jails (1960-1961) was the third episode of  Eyes on the Prize and had a segment on these student protests. Many of the interviewees were organizers and members of SNCC including Diane Nash, Robert Moses and John Lewis. In her interview for Eyes on the Prize, Diane Nash talked specifically about Ella Baker, Baker’s importance for SNCC, and how she empowered the students to take the lead with the protests,

Ella Baker was very important to giving direction to the student movement at that particular point. And not giving direction in a way of her making decisions, as to what the students ought to do, but in terms of really seeing how important it was to recognize the fact that the students should set the, the goals and directions, and maintain control of the student movement. So, she was there in terms of offering rich experience of her own, and advice, and helping patch things up when they needed to be patched up. She was very important to me, personally, for several reasons. Number one, I was just beginning to learn, during that period of time, how everyone, particularly people who were older than we were, had other motives for their participation. Motives other than simply achieving freedom. There were people involved who worked with civil rights organizations who were very concerned about their organization’s image, and perpetuating their organization, who were concerned about fund-raising, and who would make decisions and take positions, based on those concerns, even at the expense, sometime, of actually gaining desegregation, such as the students were trying to do. And that was a very energy-draining thing for me, sometimes. And I didn’t—I remember a couple of times when things had happened that really bothered me, that I didn’t totally understand. I never had to worry about where Ella Baker was coming from. She was a very honest person, and she was—she would speak her mind honestly. She was a person that I turned to frequently who could emotionally pick me back up and dust me off. And she would say things, like, “Well, so-and-so is concerned about his fund-raising, maybe that’s why he took,”—and it would make things click, and fall into place, and she was just tremendously helpful, to me personally, and also to SNCC. I think she was constantly aware of the fact that the differences that the students had were probably not as important as the similarities that we had, in terms of what we were trying to do. So, very often, she was the person who was able to make us see, and work together. I think her participation as a person some years older than we, could really serve as a model of how older people can give energy and help to younger people, at the same time, not take over and tell them what to do, really strengthen them as individuals and also strengthen—she strengthened our organization.

Interview with Diane Nash, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 12, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

Baker has been quoted as saying, “strong people don’t need strong leaders,” and SNCC’s philosophy was to empower both the students and the most oppressed members of the communities to decide what action they were going to take themselves, rather than rely on directives or orders from the leaders of the movement. Ella Baker was undoubtedly a leader and mentor to many people but her way of leading was to empower others to take action and direct their own campaigns and actions.

The complete collection of full length transcripts from Eyes on the Prize are available online.

More resources for Ella Baker can be found at the Ella Baker Center, and an oral history interview with Ella Baker, conducted by  former SNCC members Casey Hayden and Sue Thrasher, is available online in audio and transcript form at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s project, Documenting the American South.

Hands On The Freedom Plow

27 Jul

Image from The University of Illinois Press

A new book, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC, covers the vital but often overlooked role of women in the civil rights movement. Co-edited by Judy Richardson, former Blackside producer and current senior producer at Northern Lights Productions, this book gives voice to fifty-two women who were part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and on the front lines of the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, and voter registration efforts to name just a few campaigns.

The book gives us first-hand accounts of the women who were engaged in many of the pivotal events of the civil rights movement, and also addresses the role of women not only in society but within the movement as well. The book gives the reader a “behind-the-scenes” look at a vibrant organization and revisits the debates that occurred within an organization that was as varied as the individuals doing the front line work of organizing and fighting against an apartheid system in the South. The topics of self-defense and nonviolence, the role of white people in SNCC, and the role of women, are all revisited and discussed through the eyes of women who were active in the movement.

As the editors write in the introduction,

“Though the voices are different, they all tell the same story–of women bursting out of constraints, leaving school, leaving their hometowns, meeting new people, talking into the night, laughing, going to jail, being afraid, teaching in Freedom Schools, working in the field, dancing at the Elks Hall, working the WATS line to relay horror story after horror story, telling the press, telling the story, telling the word. And making a difference in this world.”

Many of the women interviewed for this book were also interviewed by Blackside for Eyes on the Prize. Judy Richardson, a producer on that series, brought a unique perspective to the production, both as a woman and as someone who had been active in the movement. Henry Hampton, and the producers of Eyes on the Prize, set out to document the civil rights movement with the voices of activists who were not nationally known. Women’s voices often got lost in the recounting of events, so this book and Eyes on the Prize, both assure that these accounts are heard, and that women are recognized for their major contribution to the civil rights movement within SNCC.

Casey Hayden and Mary King were two women in SNCC who raised the issue of sexism within the movement, thereby sparking a discussion on the role of women both as activists and in the larger society. The paper, Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo, co-authored by King and Hayden, was an early feminist text that became very influential within the modern feminist movement in America. They both tell their stories in Hands on the Freedom Plow, along with many others, including Diane Nash, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Mae Harris, Prathia Hall, Victoria Gray Adams, and many others.

Some interview transcripts are available online (linked were available). One of the editors of the book, Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, was also interviewed by Blackside for the series, This Far By Faith. To access the other interviews, please contact the Film and Media Archive.