Gainesville, FL—During the week of September 17 through September 22, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) at UF will return to the Mississippi Delta to continue research on the civil rights movement in Mississippi with veteran civil rights activists and leading scholars of the Mississippi campaign for equal rights. SPOHP will bring a research team of UF graduate and undergraduate students to continue collaboration with the Sunflower County Civil Rights Organization to conduct oral history interviews in the historic Mississippi Delta region. The research team will focus on uncovering the movement’s origins and researching its impact, as well as documenting contemporary legacies in a region that gave birth to one of the most vibrant social movements in American history.

This year marks the 6th anniversary of SPOHP’s Mississippi Delta research trip. SPOHP will take a team of fifteen University of Florida researchers to the region to explore the Delta’s tumultuous past and contemporary social problems. On the way, the group will stop in Tallahassee, Florida to spend an afternoon with Mrs. Laura Dixie, an organizer of the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott and a lifetime civil rights and labor activist. Mrs. Dixie will discuss the life of the Rev. C.K. Steele, Patricia Stephens Due and other key Florida movement activists from the 1950s and 1960s.

This year, SPOHP is continuing a partnership with the McComb Legacies Project in the McComb School District. The Legacies Project is a collaborative effort of the district and community members of the Local History Advisory Committee who are committed to the research, documentation, and sharing of McComb’s history. The Legacies Project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in a grant to “Teaching for Change” that provides students with the opportunities to explore the history of the Civil Rights Movement and labor history during the school day and after school. Last year, the students produced a documentary called “The Voting Rights Struggle,” which won numerous awards and advanced to the national level of the National History Day competition. Legacies Project and SPOHP students will conduct oral history interviews together in McComb before departing for the Delta the following day.

While in the Delta, SPOHP will conduct oral history interviews and host workshops on social justice issues at locations in the region that are annual stops for the research trip, including the Fannie Lou Hamer Civil Rights Museum in Belzoni and the Sunflower County Freedom Project in Sunflower, Mississippi, as well as others in Cleveland and Glendora. Student researchers will have the opportunity to interviews and learn from seasoned public history advocates from varied backgrounds. These long-standing relationships are crucial for SPOHP to have opportunities to work within communities.

The capstone of SPOHP’s agenda in the Delta is a public history panel at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, which focuses on the legacies of the civil rights movement in the Delta. This panel will be held on the evening of September 19 at 6:00 p.m. in the Jacob Conference Center. Each year, the panel invites movement veterans, historians, educators, and area youth to discuss the importance of studying struggles for democracy as well as the contemporary lessons in civic engagement that can be drawn from organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

The theme of this year’s panel is “Violence, Non-Violence, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” Panelists will discuss the various forms of non-violent direct action taken up by civil rights veterans to bring voting rights to all Americans, and the violent backlash of vigilantes, white supremacists, and organized mobs that resulted. Professor Akinyele Umoja of Georgia State University will be a panelist at the event, speaking on his acclaimed new book, “We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement.” The event will include a book signing and singing of Freedom Songs. Teachers, students, and community activists who attend the panel will receive free educational DVD’s on the histories of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and in Florida. Last year, the Delta State panel drew more than 200 audience participants, the majority of whom were public school students.

Interviews collected during this research trip will be deposited in a publicly accessible archive at the University of Florida as well as with the Sunflower County Civil Rights Organization in Mississippi for educational use. In December 2013, SPOHP students from the trip will present their reflections in a public panel at the Civic Media Center in Gainesville. In addition, students will produce brief educational audio podcasts of their interviews when they return to Gainesville. These podcasts will be featured on SPOHP’s popular iTunes portal. Major themes of past podcasts include: the role of music in movement organizing, women’s contributions to the civil rights movement & the connection between local organizing and national politics. All of these materials will be made accessible to area schoolteachers.

This research trip is co-sponsored by Mr. William De Grove, the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, UF African American Studies program, UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UF Office of Research, UF Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, The Sunflower County Civil Rights Organization, The Diversity Advisory Committee at Delta State University & The Sam Block Civil Rights Organization.

Press Release
The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida
September 11, 2013

Génesis Lara is a University Scholar and recipient of the Ann Regan Undergraduate Research Award.

Génesis Lara is SPOHP’s new Latino History Coordinator. Currently a senior at the University of Florida studying history, Génesis is a University Scholar and recipient of the Ann Regan Undergraduate Research Award.

In Fall 2013, Génesis will work with SPOHP’s internship class on its semester-long project, which focuses on the 20th founding anniversary of La Casita, UF’s Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, for Spring 2014. The project centers on active student leaders and founders of the organization.

Génesis will also continue research with the Tucson Ethnic Studies project, conducted with the teachers of the banned ethnic studies program in Tucson, Arizona, and work on community outreach for programs like the premiere of “Siempre Adelante,” which documents the life experiences and patterns of undocumented immigrant life in the U.S.

As one of her main project goals for Latino History at SPOHP, Génesis will work to document the accomplishments and struggles of Latinos in the United States through oral history. Latinos are expected to become the majority population in the United States by 2050, and SPOHP’s collection is an emerging place of discussion to ask what this fact will mean socially and politically in the future, as illuminated by the lessons of the past.

Génesis’s thesis research for the University Scholars Program focuses on the revolutionary period in the Dominican Republic (1961-1966). In her work, Génesis plans to shed light on the importance of this revolution to Latin America and global Cold War politics. As the United States feared that the Dominican Republic would become “the next Cuba”, the country struggled to shape its future after the 31-year dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina. Her research will explore the international support this revolution had and different political actors who sacrificed their lives to create a constitutional democratic government in the Dominican Republic. One of her main research interests is Dominican political theorist Juan Bosch and his influence in the revolution. She intends for the thesis to be a tribute to the men and women who sacrificed their lives seeking freedom in the Dominican Republic.

Génesis joined the staff at SPOHP as a transcriber doing Spanish language translation after working as an intern. She also is also a central coordinator of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the University of Florida. Genesis will be presenting at the 47th Annual Oral History Association’s Meeting on “The Transformational Power of an Ethnic Studies Education: Fighting for Love in Tucson, Arizona” under SPOHP’s Education and Social Change in Oral History panel in October.

For more information about Latino History at SPOHP, contact Génesis Lara.

Gainesville, FL. August 14, 2013—The Oral History Association is awarding its 2013 Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi (“Voice of the People”) Award to the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program for achievements in using oral histories as a means of furthering social justice. As OHA President Dr. Mary Larson noted, the awarding committee congratulated SPOHP on its multi-faceted achievements in scholarship and outreach, saying, “The breadth of the program is astounding.” The Association is also recognizing Ms. Falana McDaniel with the Martha Ross Teaching Award for her direction of the teaching oral history to the McComb Legacies Project, a partner educator of SPOHP.

The Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi (“Voice of the People”) annual award honors individuals or organizations who have accomplished outstanding achievement in using oral history to create a more humane and just world and is named in honor of Floridian Stetson Kennedy, a pioneer oral historian whose work has been an important tool for advocacy on behalf of human rights.  As a further testament to SPOHP’s commitment to social justice initiatives, SPOHP and the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History were selected for the honor of preparing Stetson Kennedy’s writings, recordings, and papers for public access through the University of Florida libraries, the inaugural event for which will be held on October 22, 2013 at Smathers Libraries.

The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program works to build an oral history archive that preserves eyewitness accounts, memories and narratives of historical events and progressive social movements. With archives featuring over 5,300 interviews, SPOHP involves the creativity of students, staff, and community volunteers to share this research with the public through podcasts, videos, and research projects.

SPOHP’s emphasis on social justice research is reflected in the work of its students, who have written theses and dissertation on community activism and labor organizing, relying on the interdisciplinary nature of oral history that provides a rare opportunity for students in the humanities to conduct field studies.  SPOHP sends a group of graduate and undergraduate students to the Mississippi Delta every September to expand its Mississippi Freedom Project collection, which focuses on recording the histories of civil rights movement veterans as well as current community organizers, catfish plant workers, union members, educators, and students. SPOHP’s internship program grants practical experience in public history to over twenty students a semester.

SPOHP’s free public programs highlight how scholars and activists use oral interviews empower messages of social justice and human rights, including such guests as Dr. Larry Rivers, Dr. Alan Rosen, and Stephanie Coontz in the past year. SPOHP partners social justice groups including Gainesville Women’s Liberation, Gainesville Veterans for Peace, and the Civic Media Center, and The Gainesville Iguana, and maintains a network of partnerships with similar organizations across the country, including Student Action with Farmworkers in Durham, North Carolina, the Sunflower County Freedom Project in the Mississippi Delta, Teaching for Change in McComb, Mississippi, and the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project through the National Folklife Center. SPOHP’s contribution to these partnerships is carried out by facilitating and processing interviews to generate more educational materials. These partnerships allow each organization to advance their goals by sharing resources and audiences.

The Martha Ross Teaching Award is being awarded to McComb High School Digital Medias Technology teacher Falana McDaniel, who coordinates the after-school history research group, McComb Legacies Project, at McComb High School in McComb Mississippi. The Martha Ross Award recognizes an educator involved in using oral history as a medium to enhance learning, focusing on civic and community components. Ms. McDaniel attended an intensive two-day oral history workshop with SPOHP in 2011 at the University of Florida which covered oral history methodology and practice. The workshop focused on how to conduct an interview, document it, and publish it in various forms of media: techniques Ms. McDaniel uses to great success in teaching her students about the flexibility of oral history as a research tool.

In the last school year, Ms. McDaniel facilitated multiple research and leadership development opportunities for her students, culminating in the premiere of their local history documentary, “The Voting Rights Struggle,” based on their own oral history research in McComb. The documentary won first place in Mississippi state’s National History Day competition. Legacies Project students also attended SPOHP’s 2012 Mississippi Freedom Project research trip and later organized a multi-day event at their high school in February 2013, which they designed to share the experiences of Civil Rights Movement activists with their classmates. Legacies Project students were inspired, instructed, and empowered by their teacher, Falana McDaniel, to actively seek engagement with oral history research and education, and SPOHP congratulates Ms. McDaniel on her award.

The Vox Populi award is co-sponsored by The Stetson Kennedy Foundation , a non-profit foundation dedicated to human rights, racial and social justice, environmental stewardship, and the preservation and growth of folk culture. SPOHP is a receiving the award with Rosalie Riegle, who will be recognized for her achievements over a lifetime of activism. The Vox Populi and Martha Ross awards will be presented at the Oral History Association’s Annual Meeting, to be held in October 2013 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Press Release
The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
August 14, 2013

Mr. Don Obrist has been working with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program since 2011, primarily on the Veterans History Project, with Ann Smith and a talented group of volunteers who hail from all walks of life. Don has interviewed military veterans from a broad range of eras, including World War II, Korea, and Vietnam-era service members.

Ann Smith, the coordinator of SPOHP’s Veterans’ Project, gives Don a large amount of the credit for the remarkable success of VHP’s interview work in the area of military and civilian service histories. In recent years, nearly 200 such interviews have been gathered and processed. “Don’s skills as an interviewer, his sense of humility and professionalism as well as his friendliness have opened many doors for UF Oral History in the veterans’ community,” said Smith.

SPOHP has always had a special mission in preserving the narratives of military veterans. Our founder, Samuel Proctor, was a WWII veteran who always emphasized the importance of using veterans’ narratives to teach students about the values of service and commitment in a cause greater than themselves. Don’s initiative and dedication allow us to continue working in the tradition that Sam Proctor started at the University of Florida.

Don moved to Gainesville after retiring from a 38-year career in consumer product sales in Syracuse, New York. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s graduate business program and served six years in the New York Army National Guard 42nd Rainbow Division.

Please join us in thanking Mr. Don Obrist for his outstanding volunteer service to the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program!

Gainesville,FL – On August 23, 2013, SPOHP debuted a brand new website. Take a look! And enjoy this photo gallery of our origins 20 years ago, in honor of the occasion.

circa Turlington Hall, 1980

Gainesville, FL, August 15, 2013—George A. Smathers Libraries approved a mini-grant proposal to transcribe the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP)’s Mississippi Freedom Project collection. The collection features in-depth oral history interviews with leaders and activists involved in the civil rights movement in Mississippi. The completion of this project is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer during the summer of 2014.

The Mississippi Freedom Project is a collection of over 100 interviews focusing on civil rights  activism and organizing in the Mississippi Delta, including important events such as Mississippi Freedom Summer, the nationally-recognized voter registration drive that took place in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1964 amidst racial violence and oppressive Jim Crow laws, and the founding of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the political formation most responsible for the formulation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Mississippi Freedom Project collection is an ongoing series of interviews conducted since 2004. Every September, SPOHP sends a team of researchers to the Mississippi Delta to collect interviews and facilitate public workshops and lectures with veteran activists, lending the collection a unique focus on the lessons and work of community organizing in the Civil Rights Movement as it connects to the current social and political climate in Mississippi today. The Mississippi Freedom Project includes an interview and organizing workshop with Lawrence Guyot, Director of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964, and interviews with Liz Fusco, who served as Mississippi Statewide Coordinator of Freedom Schools, Kelvin Williams, elected the first African American sheriff of Bolivar County since Reconstruction in 2011, and students at the Sunflower County Freedom Project as well as the former Teach for America volunteers who now direct the program. Several interviews also contain reflections from individuals who worked directly with Fannie Lou Hamer, chair of the MFDP and a formidable civil rights leader and community organizer, as well as the experiences of lawyers whose depositions and affidavits formed the justification of Section 5, the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

In September 2013, SPOHP will send another team of researchers to gather more interviews for the collection. SPOHP is also a co-sponsor of the Sunflower County Civil Rights Organization’s 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer Reunion, to take place in June 2014.

African American Studies librarian Jana Ronan developed the proposal in collaboration with SPOHP researchers, and the proposal was approved by the mini-grant committee in May of 2013. The transcribed interviews will become a part of the University of Florida Digital Collections online, where they are available to researchers and educators. SPOHP will also present these transcripts to veterans of the Mississippi Freedom Summer at their 50th anniversary reunion in July of 2014. This processing project will leverage existing knowledge, resources, and partnerships to promote online access to the Mississippi Freedom Project collection, including the development of a Freedom Summer LibGuide, two new podcasts, and a second phase which involves continuing transcription, Google Optimization of transcripts, and expanded Mississippi Freedom Project content on SPOHP’s website.

As the upcoming 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer approaches, students, teachers, professors, and interested citizens will be seeking more information about the summer of 1964, and in-depth understanding of the context in which these historical events took place. The richly diverse thematic focus of the Mississippi Freedom Project interviews will help to promote a broad, interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of African American history, US social history, public policy, psychology, agriculture, and technological change, among other topics. Once processed, these interviews will support new research questions and intellectual outcomes.

The digitized, accessible oral history interviews in the Mississippi Freedom Project collection will be findable on the web at the University of Florida Digital Collections site, as well as through mainstream search engines such as Google or Bing, and represented in scholarly search engines such as Summon.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Paul Ortiz
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program Director
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Florida
241 Pugh Hall ∙ PO Box 115215
Gainesville, FL, 32611
(352) 392-7168


Jana Ronan
African American Studies
University of Florida Libraries
(352) 273-2623

News Release
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP), University of Florida
August 15, 2013

“You Belong to Me,” a film following murder, sex, and race in the life story of Ruby McCollum, recently began production. Dr. Paul Ortiz, among other prominent historians, was interviewed for the film. The official press release follows below.

“You Belong To Me”: Feature of Murder, Sex, and Race Begins Production in Florida

Beverly Hills, CA, July 23, 2013 – Clearwater, Florida based production company Deliberate Murder LLC announced today that they are in production on You Belong To Me , a feature-length documentary portraying the shocking tale of Ruby McCollum. This story of race-induced sexual exploitation explores not only the infamous shooting and the trial but the impact of the case on Live Oak, Florida, the South and the Nation for more than sixty years. Production is slated to wrap up later this year.

Screen shot 2013-08-23 at 4.15.51 AM
You Belong To Me

The film is produced by both Hilary Saltzman, daughter of legendary producer Harry Saltzman of the original James Bond movies, and Jude Hagin, who served as film commissioner in Central Florida for 15 years. Kitty Potapow, former president of the Film Commission of Real Florida, Inc., is Executive Producing. You Belong To Me is being written and directed by John Cork, the creative force behind more than 100 documentary shorts and two feature length documentaries including Murnau, Borzage and Fox. Additionally, Cork wrote The Long Walk Home starring Sissy Spacek and Whoopi Goldberg. Lisa Van Eyssen, joins Cork on board as a producer from his production company, Cloverland.

The powerful film centers on Ruby McCollum, the wealthiest black woman in Suwanee County, Florida in the late 40s. With a husband who was a property owner and a son who was attending UCLA, her family was a promising exception to the perceived lifestyle of African-Americans in the Jim Crow South. Or so it seemed from the outside…

Despite her wealth, Ruby could not escape the clutches of the Jim Crow South, nor the inherent racism that came with it. One antebellum belief that had survived into Ruby’s day was the practice of paramour rights – a white man’s sexual entitlement to any black woman of any age or marital status, without consequence. Enter Dr. C. LeRoy Adams, a white State Senator-elect who, according to Ruby, had sexually violated her repeatedly over the years, leading her to giving birth to a daughter fathered by Dr. Adams. On August 3rd, 1952, Ruby McCollum pregnant once again by the Doctor, did something that grabbed national attention and paved the way for the abolition of what was essentially racially motivated sexual slavery: she shot Dr. Adams four times, killing him.

“You Belong To Me” investigates Ruby’s story, exploring a dark period in U.S. history and documenting the changing role of race and gender in our society and our legal system. Ultimately, the film reveals how tragedy and sacrifice can pave the way for necessary change.

For more information on the film, please consult the website

PanAfricanismCourse“Pan-Africanism,” Justin Dunnavant
Tues 2:00pm – 3:00pm, Thurs 2:00pm
AFA 4931, AFS 4935, ANT 4930

Broadly defining Pan-Africanism as a political and cultural movement as well as an ideology, this course will trace the intellectual genealogy of Pan-African thought into the 20th century. Geographically, we will focus heavily on Pan-Africanism in the United States, England, Africa, and the Caribbean and briefly touch on Pan-Africanism in Latin America and Asia. In addition to the concept of Pan-Africanism, we will explore the related themes of Black Nationalism, Ethiopianism, and Negritude. Lectures will be supplemented with documentary films, recorded speeches, and other multimedia sources.

Listing website.