I found a documentary called “The Memphis 13” by a University of Memphis professor. My FM Civil Rights Tour 2015 “Memphis Partner”* and I watched it a couple of times and contacted the professor. It looks like we are going to be able to interview him and some of the Memphis 13 while in Memphis on the 29th!
In 1961, there were only 13 families in Memphis willing to send their children into the lions’ den of early school integration. The students were first graders.
My partner and I are in the process of assembling a list of questions. We are considering contacting one of the schools where integration initially occurred in Memphis about meeting there. And maybe we can talk to some current students and faculty?
I’m especially excited to be a part of this since I feel like I am putting my son through the 2015 version of it. Luc never gets spit upon, but there is a different form of hardship. I believe the 60’s were more dangerous physically, but I think life is more emotionally dangerous now. Maybe just in a different way. The 60’s were obviously emotionally dangerous as well. But there is something about an invisible, undefinable enemy that is incredibly insidious. (And example: good, kind, well intentioned people who have been unwittingly brainwashed by the media (only black men commit crimes each night? according to the local news, yes) to assume a black boy is a trouble maker.)
I will post the questions we have come up with so far in a little bit.
*We have been assigned a partner and a city. My partner and I got Memphis. We are responsible for setting up the entire day in Memphis: museums, sites, interviews, even lunch! There are 12 of us in the group. We will visit 5 cities in 6 days. LA -> Little Rock, AK -> Memphis, TN -> Jackson, MS -> Montgomery/Selma/Birmingham, AL -> D.C. (but flying into Baltimore, where a black man recently died in police custody from brutality)