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Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial honors civil rights work at annual dinner

Sue Sojourner of Duluth with her book Thunder of Freedom. (File photo)

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, Inc.will hold its seventh annual dinner March 29 from 6 - 9 p.m. at the Greysolon Ballroom. The board of directors announced Sue Sojourner as the 2014 honoree.

“We’re really excited to be honor Sue for her work,” said Tory White, Clayton Jackson McGhie board secretary.

Sue (Lorenzi) Sojourner is a veteran of the civil rights movement who worked from the fall 1964 through summer 1969 to help black residents of Holmes County, Miss. build a viable, powerful and effective socio-political movement for change.

“We chose Sue due to her continued effort in the civil rights movement. Her work in the 50’s and 60’s is indicative of the kind of enthusiasm she’s shown for the cause for decades,” Rogier Gregoire said.

Written in collaboration with Cheryl Reitan, Sojourner’s book “Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi” was published in January 2013 by University Press of Kentucky. She has produced two photography exhibitions documenting this period of activism.

The world’s eyes were on Mississippi during the summer of 1964, when civil rights activists launched an ambitious African American voter registration project and were met with violent resistance from white supremacists. Sue Sojourner and her husband, Henry Lorenzi, arrived in Holmes County during “Freedom Summer.” The month their trip began, the bodies of three civil rights workers — Andrew Goodman, James Cheney and Michael Schwerner — were found in an earthen dam in Neshoba County, Miss. It was a little more than an hour’s drive from where Sue and Henry Lorenzi (the couple would change their name to Sojourner after later travels) were headed.

From September 1964 until her departure from the state in 1969, Sojourner collected an incredible number of documents, oral histories and photographs chronicling the dramatic events that she witnessed. In the book, Sojourner and Reitan present an account of one of the civil rights movement’s most active and broad-based community organizing operations in the South.

“The book unites Sojourner’s personal experiences with her insights regarding the dynamics of race relations in the 1960s South, providing readers with a unique look at the struggle for justice and equality in Mississippi,” White said.

Illustrated with selections from Sojourner’s acclaimed catalog of photographs, the book tells the stories of “ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things,” as White said.

“We’re excited to have her. There will be a short video about her work, and of course Sue will be there to share with us,” White said.

To learn more about Sue and her work, visit suesojourner.com or thunderoffreedom.com.

For more information visit www.claytonjacksonmcghie.org for updates on reserving tickets for the event and providing sponsorship.

If you go

What: Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Dinner

Where: Graysolon Ballroom, 231 E. Superior Street

When: 6 p.m. Saturday March 29

Cost: Free, but donations recommended

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

(218) 720-4176
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