6.14.2011

Undated: Tent City, Tennessee



What began as a voter registration drive by black residents of Fayette and Haywood counties in Tennessee became an economic battle as white merchants refused their business and white landowners evicted black tenant farmers. In response -- and out of necessity -- the farmers set up "Tent City" on land owned by a black farmer. On June 14, President Kennedy authorized the Department of Agriculture to send surplus food to the people living there. (On July 26, 1962, a federal court would prohibit white landowners from trying to keep blacks from voting.)

Top photo: Voter registration line at Haywood County Courthouse. Photo by Walter Sanders for Life magazine.
Bottom photo: Tent City family. Photo by Ernest C. Withers.

* "Tent City Stories" (from Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, University of Memphis): @
* Summary and timeline (from Jackson Sun civil rights series): @ and @
* Summary (from Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture): @
* Summary (from Civil Rights Conference, University of Tennessee at Martin): @
* Summary written for youngsters (from Tennessee History for Kids): @
* "Cold War in Fayette County" (Ebony magazine, September 1960): @
* "Tent City, TN" (Ebony, March 1961): @
* "Which Way Out ...?" (NAACP's Crisis magazine, March 1961): @

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