Kudzu (newspaper)

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Cover of the June 24, 1969 issue

The Kudzu was a counterculture underground newspaper published in Jackson, Mississippi starting in September 1968.[1] Promising "Subterranean News from the Heart of Ole Dixie" and offering a blend of hip culture and radical politics, it was founded by members of the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), a student activist group affiliated with SDS. Founding editors were Cassell Carpenter,[2] David Doggett, and Everett Long, students at Millsaps College in Jackson.[3] Despite harassment by police and city officials it survived until May 1972.[4]

Before launching Kudzu David Doggett, who had been hired as a full-time organizer for Mississippi by SSOC, spent a month living in the basement of The Great Speckled Bird, their sister newspaper in Atlanta, learning the mechanics of underground newspaper production. The paper was biweekly, but due to publishing delays it generally came out about once every three weeks during its first year, and about once every 6 weeks thereafter. The papers were sold at high schools, colleges, and downtown Jackson, with additional distribution at colleges and other locations across Mississippi.[5] Over the life of the paper about 32 issues were published, with about 6000 copies printed of each issue.[6] Because they could not find an affordable printer in Jackson, Kudzu was forced to go to The Louisiana Weekly, a black newspaper in New Orleans, to get the paper printed. The paper had few advertisers and was financed mostly out of the pockets of the editors, who lost the small amount of financial support they were receiving from SSOC when that group disbanded in mid-1969.[7]


  1. ^ About this newspaper: The Kudzu, Chronicling America, Library of Congress, retrieved March 25, 2010.
  2. ^ She was née Cain, see The Elms Papers, ca. 1800s-1900s, Z 1879.000 S, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, Miss., http://mdah.state.ms.us/manuscripts/z1879.html, n.d. (2009).
  3. ^ Analavage, Robert. "Mississippi Belle Says Goodbye to All That," Southern Patriot 27 (March 1969), p. 4. Reprinted in: The Movement for a New America, edited by Mitchell Goodman (Knopf, 1970), p. 93-94.
  4. ^ Michel, Gregg. Struggle for a Better South: Southern Student Organizing Committee, 1964-1969 (Macmillan, 2004), p. 136-142. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  5. ^ 424 F.2d 257 Cassell CARPENTER et al. v. Russell C. DAVIS, Mayor of Jackson, et al. No. 27686. United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. April 9, 1970. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  6. ^ However, Robert J. Glessing, in The Underground Press in America (Indiana University Press, 1971) says that paid circulation was never more than 1200 copies. This may refer to mail subscriptions, but it was not uncommon for smaller underground papers to print thousands more copies than they could sell, because the economics of web press offset printing made it very cheap to have the printers run off a few thousand extra copies and then give them away as free samples or sell them later as back issues.
  7. ^ "The Kudzu: Birth and Death in Underground Mississippi" by David Doggett, in Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press ed. by Ken Wachsberger (Tempe, AZ: Mica's Press, 1993), p. 213-232.