Connie Curry has played important roles in Mississippi twice, first as a civil rights activist in the mid-1960s and since the 1990s as an author, editor, and filmmaker producing works about individuals in the civil rights movement. Born in New Jersey and raised in North Carolina, Curry attended Atlanta’s Agnes Scott College, where she became a leader of the National Student Association. That involvement led her into the civil rights movement, first with the Southern Student Human Relations Project and then as a staff member and organizer in Atlanta for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
In 1964 Curry started working for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a capacity in which she became the first staff member of Mississippians for Public Education, a group dedicated to opposing the threat that massive resistance leaders might close down the public schools and use violence against supporters of school desegregation. In her work for the AFSC, she helped parents and students deal with the various difficulties involved in going to newly integrated schools.
Curry still lives in Atlanta but continues to affect Mississippi with her work as an author, editor, and documentary filmmaker. Her first book, Silver Rights (1995), was a popular and affectionate story of Mae Bertha Carter and her children, who were the first African American students to attend the previously all-white schools in Drew. Curry knew the Carters from her work with the AFSC and wanted to tell the story of the family’s courage and perseverance. She then helped edit interviews and other material into narrative form for the 2000 book Aaron Henry: The Fire Ever Burning, a memoir of the Clarksdale leader of the Mississippi branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People based on material Henry left at his death in 1997. In 2002 Curry and Winson Hudson published Mississippi Harmony: Memoirs of a Freedom Fighter, Hudson’s story of his activism in Leake County. With clear prose and great respect for her subject, Curry has allowed many readers to see civil rights activists in their own words and in human terms. In 2004 Curry produced The Intolerable Burden, a documentary film based on Silver Rights with new material about public education in recent years.
- Constance Curry et al., Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (2000)