The Southern Foodways Alliance is hard at work talking about food and pop culture, their theme for 2015, but we wanted to make sure everyone saw their documentary work on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was part of their 2014 exploration of inclusion and exclusion in southern foodways. One part of this study included the creation of documentary films and a multimedia website telling the story of restaurant desegregation.  Southern Studies alum Kate Medley directed and produced the series.

Click here to explore the site, which in addition to the films has a great timeline of sit-ins. Read the SFA’s description of the project below.logo-ch

The project is the result of a year’s worth of work in conjunction with longtime SFA collaborator Kate Medley. The December 2014 publication of Counter Histories marked the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which desegregated places of public accommodation, including restaurants.

Each of the five films in Counter Histories tells the story of a lunch counter sit-in in one Southern city or town: Jackson, Mississippi; Nashville, Tennessee; Rock Hill, South Carolina; Durham, North Carolina; and Cambridge, Maryland. The events featured in these films took place between 1957 and 1963. Collectively, along with dozens of other sit-ins across the region and beyond, they helped bring about the end of de jure segregation.

“The SFA’s goal in commissioning Counter Histories was to put the restaurant desegregation struggles of the 1950s and 1960s in historical context, and make clear what lessons were learned in the process, and ask what work remains to be done toward the welcome table ideal,” said SFA director John T. Edge.

“In making these films, I was struck again and again by the bravery and dedication of these young men and women,” said Medley. “They risked arrest and bodily harm to carry out peaceful demonstrations that led to real change. The filmmakers and I feel fortunate to have met some of these individuals, and it is our privilege to share their stories.”

In addition to the five films, each produced by a different team of filmmakers in conjunction with Medley and the SFA, the Counter Histories website includes an interactive timeline, archival photographs, and additional resources for students and researchers.

For additional information on Counter Histories and to view the films, visit:

The Counter Histories website was designed by James Kelleway of Confit Design based in Oxford, Mississippi. James is a frequent collaborator on Center projects.