Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Activists

Photographing Civil Rights Movement Activists in Dangerous Times

1963, Mississippi.  Voter Registration Activists

1963, Mississippi. Voter Registration Activists

Harvey Richards’ photographs of Mississippi civil rights movement activists were taken during two filming trips that he made to Mississippi in the dangerous years of 1963 and 1964.  He drove there in his station wagon with California license plates, making him an easy target for hostile segregationists.  He stayed in motels in Memphis, Tennessee, during the filming, driving into the delta in the dark early morning hours to meet with Amzie Moore and other civil rights movement leaders like Bob Moses, E.W. Steptoe, Hollis Watkins, Julian Bond and Fannie Lou Hamer.  Mrs. Hamer was one of several share croppers who attempted to register to vote and were willing to tell their stories on camera. Their stories are presented in the film “Freedom Bound”, later revised with SNCC leaders’ fund raising appeals added, as “We’ll Never Turn Back”.  Under Amzie Moore’s direction, he drove on back roads via pre-arranged routes into rural areas to farm houses where look outs were posted during the filming sessions.  Filming usually took place inside these farm houses with the windows covered.  By dawn, Harvey was packed up and headed out of the delta.  The great danger of violence from segregationists and police made it necessary to film the voices of the share croppers and civil rights movement leaders in clandestine conditions.

A full account of Harvey’s two trips to Mississippi is available on this web site in Paul Richards’ essay, Primary Source Documentaries which was written about those years with his father’s cooperation before his death in 2001.  The photos in the gallery below were shot during his filming of  Freedom Bound, We’ll Never Turn Back, and Dream Deferred, which remain the most sought after part of this archive to date.  The films were used to help raise funds and spread the word about the civil rights movement in Mississippi in those years.

Buy or license these photos.  All images are copyrighted © Paul Richards 2001-2013.

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