Project South (1965)
During the summer of 1965, eight students from Stanford University spent ten weeks in the southern states tape-recording information on the civil rights movement. The eight interviewers -- Mary Kay Becker, Mark Dalrymple, Roger Dankert, Richard Gillam, James McRae, Penny Niland, Jon Roise, and Julie Wells -- were sponsored by KZSU, Stanford's student radio station, and their original intent was to gather material suitable for rebroadcasting in the form of radio programs. Much attention was focused on white civil rights workers, although a great deal of other documentation relevant to black history was also obtained: the interviewers visited over fifty civil rights projects in six states (see appendix) and secured three hundred and thirty hours of recordings, including over two hundred hours of personal interviews. In addition to interviewing members of various, well-known civil rights groups -- the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) -- the student interviewers also recorded the formal and the informal remarks of those working with smaller, independent civil rights projects, of local blacks associated with the civil rights movement, and of many others including Ku Klux Klansmen and Southerners connected with the Sheriff's Department of Clay County, Mississippi. The interviewers, in addition, spoke with many white volunteers who participated in Snick's 'Washington Lobby' (aimed at unseating the all-white Mississippi Congressional Delegation) but who did not actually go south.
Several of the two-person interview teams recorded parts of the Jackson, Bougalusa, Greensboro, Crawfordsville, and West Point demonstrations, and also gathered various other action tapes of civil rights workers canvassing voters, conducting freedom schools, or participating in demonstrations. Finally, the interviewers recorded many mass meetings and gathered much material on the orientation sessions of MFDP in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and of SCLC in Atlanta, Georgia. All of these original tape recordings are available online.
The majority of recordings mentioned above were transcribed. It is hoped that these volumes will rescue from obscurity a body of information which we believe can be of great use both to scholars and to laymen interested in the dramatic history of the civil rights movement during the past decade. This material may prove to be especially valuable because it concerns a transitional period between the first 'freedom summer' of 1964, the high tide of civil rights, and the Meredith March of 1966 during which Stokely Carmichael first voiced the compelling cry of `Black Power'.
In closing, we would like to express our thanks to the Stanford Institute of American History and to the Stanford Library for financial support which made possible the transcription of the original recordings. We would also like to thank Mrs. Betty Eldon of the Institute of American History who accepted the added burden of paperwork connected with this transcription project with tolerance and good humor. Finally, we acknowledge a particular debt to Professor George Knoles for his unfailing encouragement and support.
James D. McRae