Library News

UT Martin Museum Exhibit Explores Tennessee's Freedom Summer



A photographic exhibit titled “The Other Freedom Summer: An Exhibit of Nick Lawrence’s Images of Fayette County, Tennessee, Voter Registration Drive, June-August 1964” is on display at the University of Tennessee at Martin’s J. Houston Gordon Museum, housed within the Paul Meek Library, through May 31.

The 1964 Mississippi Summer Project, also known as the Freedom Summer, is well-known in historical contexts. However, another voter registration campaign was held that same year in Fayette County. This photographic exhibit chronicles that event, when dozens of students from Cornell University traveled through Fayette County to encourage minority adults to register to vote in the upcoming election. That year, more than 68 percent of Fayette County’s population was black, but this majority accounted for less than seven percent of registered voters.

One of the participants’ was recent graduate Nick Lawrence, photographer from Cornell University. Lawrence documented the lives and daily routines of the citizens he encountered. Thirty-five of his images are included in the exhibit, documenting the hard-working rural poor and their resolve to advance their right to vote.

For more information, contact Samuel Richardson, chief archivist and museum curator, or Karen Elmore, senior library assistant of special collections, at 731-881-7094 or online at

Pictured: Jerry Surette (right), campaign participant, discusses voter registration policies with a family on their porch (June 1964, digital print).