Freedom Summer, Opera, and Gay Liberation

The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. has been honored to research the “deleted” gay past at the Leontyne Price Library archive at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Price’s mother was a graduate of the historically black Rust College.


Leontyne Price. Photo by Adam Scull.

Rust College fell victim to an investigation of “homosexuals and oddballs” during the Freedom Summer of 1964 by the infamous Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. We are excited to discover more documents that reveal the intersection of the civil rights movement and the gay liberation movement, as openly gay African American faculty members at Rust fought to register African American voters. Price delivered a bravura performance in Jackson, Mississippi in 1967 to benefit Rust College on its 100th Anniversary.