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Susan Hasalo Sojourner Collection

 Unprocessed Collection
Identifier: AM11-013

Scope and Contents

Materials cover the feminist movement, a farm co-op, and Sue’s artistic endeavors.

Dates

  • circa 1960s-2000s

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the united States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

Susan Hasalo Sojourner fought tirelessly for social justice throughout her life, for civil rights in Holmes County, Mississippi, and also for women’s liberation and LGBTQ+ rights during her years in D.C. and Duluth.

She was born as Susan Sadoff to Bess & Benard. Along with her sister Muriel and brother Bud, the family moved around a lot as she grew up. Sue’s college years began at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, then Stanford, and ended at UC Berkeley with a bachelors in journalism. While working in computing in California, she met a young nuclear physicist, Henry Lorenzi of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Henry and Sue married in 1964 before heading to Holmes County, Mississippi where they spent the next five years working with local Black folks in their struggle for voting rights and equality. The local people of Holmes County's movement built one of the strongest chapters of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), elected Robert G. Clark, Jr. as the first African-American Mississippi state legislator since Reconstruction, and started one of the nation’s first Head Start programs. Sue acted as witness and ally, intentionally documented meetings, photographed local activists, recorded dozens of hours of reel-to-reel tape of meetings and interviews, saving everything she could. The records formed the raw material for her book, Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi, written with Cheryl Reitan, a permanent exhibit for an organizer training center Got to Thinking: How the Black People of 1960s Holmes County, Mississippi Organized Their Civil Rights Movement, and The Some People of That Place traveling exhibit.

In 2013, the Mississippi Legislature honored Sue and Henry for their years working with “black Holmes County Mississippians to build a viable, powerful and effective political and social movement.” The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson includes many of her photos of the leaders and community members active in Holmes County’s civil rights organizing. She was profiled by the Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement and the African-American Registry, which also captured her discussing the Jewish identity that led her to identify with the need for liberation.

After moving to D.C., Sue turned her energies toward the women’s liberation movement and helped create resources for feminist readers and writers. Sue and Henry lived in a commune in the Eastern Market neighborhood. She started the First Things First fe-mail order book company in 1971, as profiled in the New Woman's Survival Catalog. A local gift and crafts store, Lammas, owned by Sue’s friend, Mary Farmer, started selling her stock and evolved into D.C.’s leading feminist bookstore. Sue and Henry decided to fight the patriarchy by taking a new last name, Sojourner, inspired by abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth. Later, Henry and Sue welcomed son, Aaron, and raised him in D.C.

She came out and became active in D.C.’s lesbian community, volunteering at off our backs (oob) and celebrating High Holy Days at Bet Mispachah. After Henry’s passing, she raised Aaron as a single mom with lots of support from friends and family. During these years, Sue worked as a temp then copy editor then associate editor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Washington Quarterly.

Sue was active in many Duluth community activities and institutions, including the Washington Studios Artists Co-op and Temple Israel, which had provided material support to the Holmes County movement decades before. In 2014, Sue was honored for her contributions to civil rights by Duluth’s Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, as described in the Duluth News Tribune.

Extent

33 Cubic Feet : 302A.A1.H2-J1

Language of Materials

English

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given By: Sue Sojourner

Date of Receipt: February 15 & 16, 2011

Related Materials

M502 Henry and Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner Civil Rights Movement Collection

Title
Susan Hasalo Sojourner Collection
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

Contact:
118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001
601.266.4345