Dean of Library Services Remembers Pete Seeger in Fayette County

Dean of Library Services Remembers Pete Seeger in Fayette County

515 reading 029In 2003 I curated an exhibition of photographs relating to Tent City, a temporary settlement for evicted sharecroppers in Fayette County, Tennessee, 1960-1963. Late in Dec 1960 shots were fired randomly into the tents, striking Early B. Williams in the arm and narrowly missing his young daughter. A few months later Pete recorded “Fayette County”, which was included on the Gazette album. One afternoon into our exhibit walked Early and Mary Williams. I walked with Early Williams through the exhibit, and stopped while he gazed at part of the exhibit which documented his family’s former tent, his injury, and the song lyric. Suddenly it came into focus for me: I was standing with Early Williams, looking at photos of him taken the day after his injury, as Pete Seeger sang “In the early light of morning the planters’ gunmen creep | Fired their guns into the tents where little children sleep | Guns roar, barrels aimed at children in their beds | A bullet struck Earl Williams, and this is what he said…” It gave me the shivers.

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