Fifty Photographs: selections from SCUA collections

Freedom summer

by Gloria Xifaras Clark, August 1964

Just a year out of college, Gloria Clark committed herself to a role in the civil rights movement, enlisting to teach school in Mississippi during Freedom Summer, 1964. Based in the northern part of the state, Clark was a first-hand witness to the brutality of segregation and racial oppression, including the torching of a church in Tippah County for sponsoring a talk by Fannie Lou Hamer, as well as to the resilience of the African American community.

During her time in the south, Clark also became an organizer for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and she was part of a contingent that went north to lobby the Democratic Party convention in the cause of civil rights. There she captured a gathering of MFDP activists facing away from the camera on a hot night in Atlantic City, while the faces of three murdered civil rights workers -- James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman -- stare insistently back.