Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Seeing Red in Black: A Lecture at Demosthenian Hall

On Sunday, October 5th the Russell Library hosted, “Seeing Red in Black: White Southern Leaders Fight Desegregation,” at the Demosthenian Hall on the UGA campus. Speakers at this event, the third in the Weaving the Threads of Justice program series, drew upon film, video, and documents from archival collections at the Russell Library to explore the tactics employed by key Georgia segregationists to discredit and undermine the Civil Rights Movement.

Demosthenian Hall, the fourth oldest building on the UGA campus (ca. 1824), provided a distinguished setting for this discussion of racial politics in the South. Jill Severn, head of access and outreach for the Russell Library, provided brief introductions to the topic and speaker and extended thanks to the audience of students and faculty for their attendance. Craig Breaden, head of Media and Oral History at the Russell Library, proceeded with a well-written talk in which he described they ways white segregationists used propaganda techniques to link the Civil Rights Movement to Communism, in the hopes of undermining the efforts of the former with the notorious reputation of the latter. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of was a film created by Ed Friend and produced by the Georgia Commission of Education, which depicts interracial activities at the Highlander Folk School on the occasion of the School’s 25th anniversary. Still images from this film were later used in the production of a broadside titled “Labor Day Weekend at Communist Training School, 1957,” which was disseminated to prominent politicians and citizens throughout the South. Breaden showed the silent film (a part of the Russell Library's permanent collection) and offered some commentary on the circumstances surrounding its creation and use.

The presentation concluded at 4:15, leaving ample time for attendees to partake of some delicious treats and reflective discussion in the downstairs hall. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next Weaving program, “The Untold Story of Women’s Leadership at the Highlander Research and Education Center on Sunday, October 19th at 3:00p.m. at the Demosthenian Hall. Thanks to the extra efforts of both Craig and one of our dedicated student workers, we were able to record the lecture and should have a podcast up on the website shortly!

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