Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Nikki Brown

Second Advisor

Connie Atkinson

Third Advisor

Mary Mitchell


This paper examines the experiences of rural black women in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement by examining correspondence of the grassroots anti-poverty organization the Box Project. The Box Project, founded in 1962 by white Vermont resident and radical activist Virginia Naeve, provided direct relief to black families living in Mississippi but also opened positive and clandestine lines of communication between southern black women and outsiders, most often white women. The efforts of the Box Project have been largely left out of the dialogue surrounding Civil Rights, which has often been dominated by leading figures, major events and national organizations. This paper seeks to understand the discreet but effective ways in which some black women, though constrained by motherhood, abject poverty, and rural isolation participated in the Civil Rights Movement, and how black and white women worked together to chip away at the foundations of inequality that Jim Crow produced.


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