Gloria Xifara Papers (Univ. of Massachussets, Amherst)
I went to Memphis TN for training with teachers from NYC sponsored by the teachers union in NY. I was then assigned to Holly Springs MS, 40 miles south of TN, where I taught in the Benton County Freedom Schools during Freedom Summer.
Ivanhoe Donaldson was the project director. Following the summer I stayed on to organize the MFDP, conduct Freedom Votes, teach literacy and Negro History, organize and maintain the Freedom House Library, and do whatever needed to be done. I worked in Benton, Tippah and Union Counties.
Cleveland Sellers was the project director.
The Holly Springs Freedom House was located in Marshall County where I lived. I left MS by January 1965, worked on behalf of Friends of SNCC in Cambridge and the Boston area. I began speaking tours in my community south of Boston and had activists from MS join me to speak in my city of New Bedford MA, the city where Frederick Douglass spent his first three years as a free man, a city with a strong abolitionist and Quaker history.
At the request of the youth I became advisor to a newly formed NAACP youth chapter and reamained in that position from 1965-1968. I remained active in many local civil rights, anti-Vietnam war and anti draft activities, including voter registration drives conducted with the youth. By 1972 I moved to England with my husband and young children, returning in 1975.
Since 1995 I have been conducting taped interviews of participants in the Holly Springs civil rights movement of the 1960's. There are 50 oral history interviews of North Mississippi civil rights' activists located at Rust College, a historically black college in Holly Springs MS, and also housed at University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. These have been digitized by USM and are to be available to the public online. These interviews were conducted by 4 of us from 1995-2003. They involve activists, both local and non local, working for change primarily in Benton, DeSoto, Marshall, Tippah and Union counties. Excerpts from the audio portions are being heard as PSAs on Mississippi Public Radio.
Activists' Larry Rubin of Washington DC and Wil Colom of Columbus MS and I are working to create a youth oriented narrative of the movement from these interviews of events that occurred in North MS during the 1960s. An additional 30 interviews have been conducted in Benton County by the Hill Country Project under the direction of activists' Aviva Futorian and Roy DeBerry. We are all working together to make all information available and accessible.
The civil rights movement was a defining moment in 20th century history and I am fortunate to have been a part of it. I hope you feel the same way!