Margaret Leonard / Long Collection
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Brief Description:

Margaret (Sissy) Leonard and her family have a long tradition of jounalism and activism during the twentieth century. This tradition began with her grandfather, George Long, who relentlessly attacked the Ku Klux Klan in his editorials at the Macon Telegraph in the early 1900's. Her mother Margaret Long, a progressive journalist, worked at various southern newspapers while writing two published novels and raising two children (mostly alone) at a time when female journalists were a rarity. Margaret Long wrote about and corresponded with many of the important people involved with both sides of the civil rights and women's liberation movements.

Margaret Leonard, while pursuing her own jounalism career,  began her activism in the civil rights movement while attending college in New Orleans. She participated in local sit-ins and  the Mississippi Freedom Rides of 1961 during which she was arrested and jailed. She is characterized as the "first unmistakably Southern white student to participate in the Mississippi Freedom Rides" by Raymond Arsenault in his book Freedom Riders. Her activism was detailed in Look magazine and served as an inspiration for participants that followed. Leonard is now retired after working for several newspapers including the Chattanooga Times, St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald, and Tallahassee Democrat.

The collection documents the personal and professional lives of  Margaret (Sissy) Leonard, her mother Margaret Long, her father Howard Leonard (also a jounalist), and her sister Catherine (Bunny). Included are personal letters and notes, official correspondence, maunuscripts and newspaper or magazine articles written about or by the family members. Coverage is from the early 1900's through the 1980's, but is cenetered around 1950's- 1970's. The collection covers some national events, but is concentrated on the South. Subjects include the civil rights movement, the women's liberation movement, the Freedom Rides, sit-ins, SNCC (Sudent Nonviolent Coordinating Committe, CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the Charleston Hospital Strike, southern union politics, prison conditions and the Albany Movement. The personal correspondence chronicles the experiences of the family. Struggles with alcoholism, divorce, single motherhood, finances and discrimination are revealed in  sometimes intimate details. The collection is not all encompassing as many items are incomplete or damaged, but  it documents the many subjects from a personal and jounalistic perspective.

Held at:
Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections
Valdosta State University Archives, Odum Library
1500 N. Patterson St.
Valdosta, GA 31698
Phone: 229-333-7150
Fax: 229-259-5055
Email: dsdavis [at]
Record Series Number: MS/126
Created by: Margaret Leonard
Volume: 8.0 Boxes
Subject Index
Civil Rights--United States
Committee of Racial Equality, CORE
Freedom Rides, 1961
Look Magazine
Macon, Georgia
Macon Telegraph
Margaret Leonard
Margaret Long
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)
United Negro College Fund
Women's Liberation
Acquisition Notes: Margaret Leonard  gift