Fayette County civil Rights struggle hits home for U of M faculty member

FAYETTE COUNTY, TN (WMC-TV) - In the 1950's and 60's, Daphene McFerren's parents led a grass roots civil rights movement in Fayette county.  Now, McFerren is leading a project of her own to try and gather more information about her life changing experience.

"I remember one incident where there was a demonstration march and one of the black demonstrators was shot in the head by a deputy, and I remember walking up to the car and seeing him slumped over the car and bleeding," Daphene McFerren, Director of the Benjamin Hooks Institute, said.

For McFerren, the Fayette County civil rights movement is a journey that started at home.  Her parents, John and Viola McFerren, helped start the movement to help African Americans gain the right to vote.

"In order to understand the future and how we got where we are to understand the past," McFerren said.

Two years ago, McFerren co-produced a documentary about the civil rights movement in Fayette County.  Now, she wants to hear more stories from those involved in the civil rights struggle.

"It's so important that we have the perspectives of all people. They don't have to agree with what happened in the 1960's or they might have a different perspective," McFerren said.

"What we're trying to do is not only capture things from that era but to bring that forward to today," University of Memphis Professor Loel Kim said.

Kim is helping McFerren develop an on-line community where those involved in the civil rights movement can tell their own stories.

"To see how it has shaped lives in Fayette County, shaped individual perceptions of who they are, what the county it and what that community is," Kim said.

McFerren hopes pictures from the movement will shape a new generation of Fayette county residents.

If you were a part of that grassroots civil rights movement in Fayette county and have a story to share, call the Benjamin Hooks Institute at the University of Memphis, That number is 901-678-3974.

You can also get more information on the movement by logging onto a special website set up to share your stories here.

Click here to e-mail Justin Hanson.