Judy Richardson, one of the editors of Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC, will speak November 9 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the University Center Bluff Room at the University of Memphis. Richardson will discuss the personal narratives of workers for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), giving readers a glimpse into the stories of women who provided the civil rights movement’s backbone. A reception will follow the lecture. This event is free and open to the public.
During her freshman year at Swarthmore College, Richardson joined the Swarthmore Political Action Committee (SPAC). In 1963, she traveled with other SPAC volunteers by bus on weekends to assist the Cambridge, Maryland, community in desegregating public accommodations. The Cambridge Movement was led by civil rights activist Gloria Richardson, with the assistance of SNCC field secretaries such as Baltimore native Reggie Robinson.
Richardson was allowed to join the SNCC staff and left college to work first in SNCC’s national office in Atlanta, where she worked closely with, James Forman, Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson and Julian Bond. She moved when the national office moved to Mississippiduring 1964Mississippi Freedom Summer. She also worked in SNCC’s projects in Lowndes County, Alabama, and in Southwest Georgia. In 1965, she became office manager for Julian Bond’s successful first campaign for the Georgia House of Representatives.
Judy Richardson founded Drum & Spear Bookstore in Washington, D.C., in 1968. She later founded and served as editor of Drum & Spear Press. She transitioned into a film career at Blackside Productions and played a pivotal role in producing the award-winning documentary series Eyes on the Prize, as well as a number of other historical documentaries. Her recent documentary with Northern Light Productions, Scarred Justice, aired nationally on PBS in 2010. It examines the 1968 Orangeburg, South Carolina student massacre — one of the many overlooked incidents of violence of the Civil Rights Movement.
Richardson has worked for a number of social justice organizations and was director of information for the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice in New York, working on police brutality issues in New York City and Freedom Rides to the Alabama Black Belt to counter Reagan’s Justice Department intimidation of African American voters.
Richardson currently lectures and conducts teacher workshops across the country on the modern civil rights movement. Her lecture is sponsored by the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change and is being held in conjunction with the annual conference of the Graduate Association for African-American History.