Florida State University School of Communication Professor Davis Houck penned the column, “Stanford Nine recorded sounds of the movement,” which appeared in the Clarion Ledger on June 21. The article discussed a group of Stanford University students who documented audio recordings of the civil rights movement, just weeks after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Reporter Jerry Mitchell, the Dean of American civil rights journalists, invited Houck to write the piece as a part of an insert commemorating the 50-year anniversary of Freedom Summer. The newspaper is based in Jackson, Miss., which is ground zero for the tribute.
As Houck writes in the piece, Florida State undergraduate student Kelli Gemmer was doing an directed independent study and discovered the KZSU Project South collection, which for more than 40 years “has gone virtually unnoticed, locked away in Stanford’s University Archives and its Archive of Recorded Sound.”
The Stanford Nine gathered more than 330 hours of sound of the civil rights movement over the course of 10 weeks, “visiting isolated outposts across the Deep South — in places such as Luverne, Alabama, Ferriday, Louisiana, Skene, Mississippi, and Orangeburg, South Carolina — to gather the stories of movement leaders, student volunteers and even words from those openly hostile to an integrated society.”
Houck, a nationally recognized expert on the American civil rights movement, is the author and editor of 10 books including volumes 1 and 2 of Rhetoric, Religion, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965, Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press (with Matthew A. Grindy), Rhetoric as Currency: Hoover, Roosevelt and the Great Depression (winner of the Marie Hochmuth Nichols award) and a Pulitzer submitted monograph, FDR and Fear Itself: The First Inaugural Address.