See below for Extended Statement[1]

Footnotes and Credits

Barbour, Johnny and Clara Barbour, interview by Donald Williams, January 25, 1999, E185.93.M6 C58 vol. 1, transcript, Civil Rights Documentation Project: The Meridian Movement, The University of Southern Mississippi, Center for Oral History & Cultural Heritage, Hattiesburg, MS.

Cagin, Seth and Philip Dray. We are not Afraid: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988). 

Edmonds, Michael, ed. Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader. (Wisconsin: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2014). 

Fentress, Ellen Ann. “Ending 50 Years of Silence About Mississippi’s Freedom Summer.” The Atlantic, June 19, 2014.

Goldman Rubin, Susan. Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (New York: Holiday House, Inc., 2014).

Lantigua-Williams, Juleyka. "The Cost of Closing the ‘Mississippi Burning’ Murder Case," The Atlantic, June 2016.

Hannah-Jones, Nikole. “Freedom Summer, 1964: Did It Really Change Mississippi?” The Atlantic. July 8, 2014.

McDew, Chuck. “Thou Shall Not Resist.” In It Did Happen Here: Recollections of Political Repression in America, edited by Bud Schultz and Ruth Schultz, 47-64. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).

New York Times. “The News of the Week in Review: Racial Crisis and Mississippi Terror.” June 28, 1964.

Mitchell, Don. The Freedom Summer Murders. (New York: Scholastic Press, 2014). 

Rankine, Claudia. The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. (Albany: Fence Books, 2015).

Sellers, Cleveland and Robert L. Terrell, The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC (New York: Morrow, 1973).

Sellers, Cleveland, interview by John Dittmer, March, 21, 2013, transcript, Civil Rights History Project, Southern History Oral History Program, under contract to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Sellers, Cleveland. “The Orangeburg Massacre, 1968.” In It Did Happen Here: Recollections of Political Repression in America, edited by Bud Schultz and Ruth Schultz, 249-262. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989). 

Sellers, Cleveland, interview with William Link, April 26, 1989, Greensboro Voices/Greensboro Civil Rights Oral History Collection, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC.

Sellers, Cleveland, interview with William Link, May 10, 1989, Greensboro Voices/Greensboro Civil Rights Oral History Collection, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC.

Shotwell, Alexis. “Unforgetting as a Collective Tactic. In White Self-Criticality beyond Anti-Racism. Edited by George Yancy, 57-67. Maryland: Lexington Books, 2015.

Watson, Bruce. Freedom Summer: The Savage Season that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy (New York: Viking Press, 2010).

[1]           In her essay, “Unforgetting as a Collective Tactic,” Alexis Shotwell describes a “critical memory practice” for engaging with memory and history. Specifically within the context of interrogating whiteness and anti-racism, Shotwell explores how we come to know or, perhaps more importantly, not know about historical events. The questions that Shotwell explores act as guideposts in my work: What has been left out of dominant narratives of history? How does this impact what we think about current events, events of history, or the experiences that we have had? What have we chosen not to acknowledge or what did we never really know because it was silenced in inherited narratives? Are there more questions that we should ask?
          If the greater strategy is exploring how I implicitly comprehend myself (and with viewers, how this relates to the varieties of ‘we’ in the room) in relation to history and memory, Shotwell’s tactic of unforgetting is useful for describing how to look at not just any past but contested and buried histories for a first, second, third, fourth time. Returning to these past events and experiences is not for nostalgia’s sake but is a critical way to revive, in detail, the events of the past, and to bring myself (and viewers) to take a closer look. 
          With this tactic in mind, my piece Eclipsed is a two-part, single channel video work, approaching a fairly publicized time in the history of the United States: The 1964 Freedom Summer movement to fight for civil rights through registering disenfranchised Black voters in Mississippi. The project digs into details as a way to linger and unpack the particularities of this specific time in the Civil Rights movement. The work asks questions relevant to today through an examination of the past.
          The first video (1:30 min), titled Looking for those who most resemble someone we now know, flashes through personal archival images, my family’s photographs as well as found family photographs, from the 1950s-1970s. This places the work ambiguously in a time and also conjures up the private space of family photos. The second video (14 min), Eclipsed, is a slide show of photographs of a lunar eclipse. My grandfather and father had taken these photographs of the eclipse through a telescope in June 1964. The photos click on and off as though viewed through a slide projector but are animated with a video overlay of a cloudy sky. A slow and melancholic music score accompanies the visuals as well as sporadic atmospheric noises (crickets for instance).
          During the duration of the eclipse, activists had covertly entered Mississippi to search by nightfall for the three slain Civil Rights activists James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman. A text overlay tells the story (drawn from oral histories, letters, and other archival sources) of this clandestine search party in the days immediately following their disappearance.
          This project uses archives, both personal and private (family photographs) and those publicly available (oral histories, library holdings), to stay within this short period of time, to imagine what occurred in the days immediately following the disappearance of the Civil Rights workers. The piece asks questions of race, whiteness, and racism in the present moment. The narrative explores the risks that the Civil Rights workers (white and Black) were taking in descending upon Mississippi as well as the risks that local people and farmworkers took in helping to clandestinely search for the missing men: housing the search party and drawing maps during the day for the nocturnal quest. Local police forces were involved with the murder, so all of this work was hidden.
          The work is a product of my insistence to look back, to turn over and over events of the past, and to examine my (our) relationship to what has occurred. It is to examine history, memory, and our present tense relationship to the past. A process of examining the layers of events over long stretches of time and working to better understand what led to the present moment. Ultimately, my project is to look more closely, carefully, critically, at the past, to examine the longer and deeper narratives that brought each of us to our current moment and ourselves.
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