Photo Gallery: Tracy Sugarman Drawings

Other Photo Galleries

Tracy Sugarman was an American illustrator known for chronicling momentous events in American History, from D-Day to the Civil Rights struggle. In 1964, he documented the people and projects of Mississippi's Freedom Summer. At age 41, he was older than many of the college-age volunteers and Civil Rights workers. Sugarman would later write two books of his experiences, The Stranger at the Gates (1966) and We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns (2009). The quotes cited here are Sugarman's unless otherwise noted.

http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_01.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_01_t.jpg|

Tracy Sugarman, pictured (left) with his family in June 1963, was motivated to sketch the 1964 Freedom Summer project by a desire "to make sure that I was capturing the flavor of a moment, the intensity of a moment."

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_02.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_02_t.jpg|

In June, 1964, Sugarman observed the second day of training in Oxford, Ohio, where Charles McLaurin of SNCC told volunteers, “We’re gonna light a lamp in Ruleville, and its gonna shine all over that Delta.”

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_03.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_03_t.jpg|

Tracy stayed with the Williams family in Ruleville, Mississippi. Mrs. Williams taught Bible class at the Holy Christ Gospel Church. Tracy observed her lessons one Sunday: “This morning, we’re goin’ to read why we welcome the strangers at our gates.”

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_04.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_04_t.jpg|

Sugarman sometimes followed along as volunteers canvassed neighborhoods, documenting their interactions with local residents as they encouraged them to register. 

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_05.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_05_t.jpg|

In addition to his drawings, Sugarman also documented the daily activities of Freedom Summer through photographs. This is a photograph of the scene he also sketched. 

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_06.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_06_t.jpg|

In July, Jim Dann, a student volunteer from California, was arrested in Drew, MS for distributing leaflets encouraging residents to come to a Civil Rights meeting. At his deposition he said, “They called me a ‘nigger-loving communist’ and then arrested me.” 

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_07.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_07_t.jpg|

 “The heart of Indianola: county seat for Sunflower County, home of the White Citizens’ Council.” In July, Tracy traveled to Indianola with Charles McLaurin and other volunteers to register nine black women from Ruleville, MS.

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_08.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_08_t.jpg|

 “This is your town and these are your folks," volunteers told a Ruleville, MS youth group organizing in July. "We’ll give you all the help we can.”

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_09.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_09_t.jpg|

“Noon at the Sanctified Church in Ruleville” 

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_10.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_10_t.jpg|

"A voter registration team at work in Drew, Mississippi." Volunteers reported being unable to make much headway in Drew, one of the more violent cities, because locals were afraid.

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_11.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_11_t.jpg|

“George Winter, [from] Ione, California, and a potential voter in Drew.”

|Tracy Sugarman;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_12.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/freedomsummer_galleryts_12_t.jpg|

In a rare sketch of police officers, Sugarman drew the “Mississippi policemen” faceless.

|Tracy Sugarman

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

Whether in politics or popular culture, civil liberty or civil rights, 1964 saw a lot of change. What event or set of events do you think had the biggest impact on the year, on American society, or on America as we know it today?



  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
  • NEH
  • Yawkey Foundation
  • DIG: Robert & Marjie Kargman and the Brian A. McCarthy Foundation (Freedom Summer)