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After Freedom Summer

How Race Realigned Mississippi Politics, 1965-1986

Chris Danielson

Publication Year: 2011

No one disagrees that 1964--Freedom Summer--forever changed the political landscape of Mississippi. How those changes played out is the subject of Chris Danielson’s fascinating new book, After Freedom Summer.

Prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, black voter participation in Mississippi was practically zero. After twenty years, black candidates had made a number of electoral gains. Simultaneously, white resistance had manifested itself in growing Republican dominance of the state.

Danielson demonstrates how race--not class or economics--was the dominant factor in white Mississippi voters' partisan realignment, even as he reveals why class and economics played a role in the tensions between the national NAACP and the local Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (an offshoot of SNCC) that limited black electoral gains.

Using an impressive array of newspaper articles, legal cases, interviews, and personal papers, Danielson's work helps fill a growing lacuna in the study of post-civil rights politics in the South.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright

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List of Figures

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p. ix

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pp. xi-xii

Numerous people had a hand in the shaping and direction of this manuscript, and I apologize in advance for any omissions. Thanks go to Charles Eagles, Charles Ross, Robert Haws, and John Winkle at the University of Mississippi. I would also like to thank...

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pp. 1-6

On March 14, 1977, Fannie Lou Hamer died at a hospital in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Hamer, who had been suffering from breast cancer and diabetes, had largely been out of high-profile civil rights activities since the early 1970s. This included an unsuccessful...

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1. Black Politics in Mississippi to 1965

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pp. 7-17

Black politicians in Mississippi reached their highest level of power shortly after the Reconstruction Acts enfranchised the freedmen. The political gains of African Americans during Reconstruction, known as the “heroic age” of black Mississippians, did not outlast...

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2. Plates of Silver, Plates of Mud: 1965–1970

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pp. 18-52

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. The act had passed over the opposition of numerous southern congressmen, including the entire delegation from Mississippi. During the first five years of its enforcement, the act helped...

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3. Gubernatorial Fantasies and Gradual Gains

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pp. 53-78

President Richard Nixon, despite his “Southern Strategy” to woo segregationist whites to the Republican Party, signed the Voting Rights Act into law for another five years in 1970 over the opposition of Mississippi’s congressional delegation. During the extension...

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4. Fused but Not Healed

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pp. 79-108

After fearing miscegenation for much of their history, white Mississippi Democrats entered into their own interracial marriage in 1976. The political division between the integrated Loyalists and the virtually all-white Regulars continued to pose a problem...

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5. Reapportionment: Giving Clark Some Company

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pp. 109-123

The elections in 1979 created the first significant core of black political power on the state level since the passage of the Voting Rights Act. While the growth of black politics on the county and municipal levels continued to produce most of the state’s elected black officials...

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6. The Class of 1979 and the Second Generation of Black Political Power

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pp. 124-154

The use of single-member state legislative districts for the 1979 elections led to the first significant number of black legislators in the twentieth century. The “class of 1979” represented the Democratic Party establishment and formed a caucus of college-educated black men...

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7. Lead into Gold?: The Alchemy of County Redistricting

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pp. 155-170

While Kirksey and the Conner plaintiffs waged their battle to reapportion the legislature, similar fights occurred at the county level. Civil rights lawyers and black plaintiffs fought against discriminatory gerrymandering with as much ardor as they had against...

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8. City Wards and Jacksonian Democracy

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pp. 171-190

The struggle against vote dilution in Mississippi’s municipalities resembled the fight against discrimination in legislative and county supervisors’ districts. Many of the same actors played major roles, and initial legal reverses could not overcome ultimate success for...

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9. The Delta District and the Continuing Politics of Race

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pp. 191-216

By the 1980s, many of the legal barriers that diluted the black vote had fallen or would fall soon. Although the total percentage of elected black officials did not equal the percentage of African Americans in the Mississippi population, civil rights activists had made major...

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Epilogue: Javitses into Eastlands, Eastlands into Barbours

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pp. 217-223

While Mike Espy was taking his House oath in 1987, the Mississippi Republican Party experienced its last serious attempt at wooing black voters. That year, Jack Reed, a department store owner in Tupelo, won the Republican nomination for governor. Reed, like Gil...


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pp. 225-269


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pp. 271-278


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pp. 279-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780813040639
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813037387
Print-ISBN-10: 0813037387

Page Count: 350
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 757826249
MUSE Marc Record: Download for After Freedom Summer

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Mississippi -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • African American politicians -- Mississippi -- History -- 20th century.
  • Political participation -- Mississippi -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mississippi Freedom Project -- Influence.
  • Mississippi -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
  • Mississippi -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mississippi -- Race relations -- Political aspects -- History -- 20th century.
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