The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi
Publication Year: 2013
Based on new research and combining multiple scholarly approaches, these twelve essays tell new stories about the civil rights movement in the state most resistant to change. Wesley Hogan, Françoise N. Hamlin, and Michael Vinson Williams raise questions about how civil rights organizing took place. Three pairs of essays address African Americans' and whites' stories on education, religion, and the issues of violence. Jelani Favors and Robert Luckett analyze civil rights issues on the campuses of Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi. Carter Dalton Lyon and Joseph T. Reiff study people who confronted the question of how their religion related to their possible involvement in civil rights activism. By studying the Ku Klux Klan and the Deacons for Defense in Mississippi, David Cunningham and Akinyele Umoja ask who chose to use violence or to raise its possibility.
The final three chapters describe some of the consequences and continuing questions raised by the civil rights movement. Byron D'Andra Orey analyzes the degree to which voting rights translated into political power for African American legislators. Chris Myers Asch studies a Freedom School that started in recent years in the Mississippi Delta. Emilye Crosby details the conflicting memories of Claiborne County residents and the parts of the civil rights movement they recall or ignore.
As a group, the essays introduce numerous new characters and conundrums into civil rights scholarship, advance efforts to study African Americans and whites as interactive agents in the complex stories, and encourage historians to pull civil rights scholarship closer toward the present.
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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Beginning as part of the Porter Fortune, Jr. History Symposium at the Uni-versity of Mississippi, this collection of essays attempts to raise some new questions and tell some new stories about the history of the civil rights For years the history of the civil rights movement in Mississippi seemed relatively clear. Activism, or so it seemed, started slowly due to the kind of ...
Grassroots Organizing in Mississippi That Changed National Politics
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The top people in this country operate in thousands of organizations simultane-ously; but the poor have no voice, nor organization. SNCC field workers can help people set up their own organizations—not set up affiliates of SNCC in all There are three ways of organizing any government: around organized money, organized military, or organized people. Our libraries and class-rooms are filled with books about societies that have created governments ...
Collision and Collusion: Local Activism, Local Agency, and Flexible Alliances
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As a scholar and teacher of the black freedom struggle in the United States, iI am often asked why there is not another civil rights movement. Why did direct action and activism work so well then, and where is it now? I teach primarily in the Northeast to those with little experience of the South and its unique social quirks and traits, and to those less experienced in the national racial realities. Therefore explaining the complexity of these questions (and ...
The Struggle for Black Citizenship: Medgar Wiley Evers and the Fight for Civil Rights in Mississippi
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This essay briefly examines the history and activism of Medgar Wiley Evers and his participation in the African American struggle for full citizenship rights.1 Here I examine some of the social, political, and cultural firestorms that raged throughout the mid-1950s and early 1960s and their impact upon Mississippi’s combative race relations. As a consequence, this discussion is about the human element of and meaning behind the civil rights struggle, the ...
Trouble in My Way: Curriculum, Conflict, and Confrontation at Jackson State University, 1945–1963
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In the larger town, few Negroes vote, but in the thickly settled rural areas, particularly in the counties in the delta, very few, if any Negroes vote. Why? Is it true that Negroes in Mississippi are satisfied with segregation, as Coleman and Eastland repeatedly tell the nation on TV programs? Why don’t we challenge them? Why don’t we speak out? Why are we so cowardly? No one wants to ...
“Hell Fired Out of Him”: The Muting of James Silver in Mississippi
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Members of the Southern Historical Association (SHA) who attended the 1963 annual meeting in Asheville, North Carolina, witnessed one of the most significant addresses ever made to that organization. As president of the SHA that year, James Silver delivered a damning blow to the Jim Crow South, where he had lived since joining the history department at the Uni-versity of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in 1936. Not much more than a year after the ...
“Doing a Little Something to Pave the Way for Others”: Participants of the Church Visit Campaign to Challenge Jackson’s Segregated Sanctuaries, 1963–1964
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For ten months beginning in June 1963, the entrances of white churches in Mississippi’s capital city became some of the key battlegrounds in the national struggle over civil rights. On most Sundays, integrated groups at-tempted to attend worship services at all-white Protestant and Catholic churches in Jackson. By challenging one of the remaining bulwarks of racial segregation, faculty and students at Tougaloo College, under the leadership ...
“Born of Conviction”: White Mississippians Argue Civil Rights in 1963
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Imagine you are a white Methodist preacher in Mississippi in the early 1960s. You grew up in the 1930s and 1940s in a segregated world and sim-ply accepted it as reality. Then as a Methodist teenager or college student at Millsaps or Mississippi Southern, you were exposed to a few speakers, religious life leaders, or professors who gently but persistently pushed you to ask questions about that segregated world. As a college student involved ...
Shades of Anti–Civil Rights Violence: Reconsidering the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi
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There is no more resonant embodiment of southern white resistance to racial integration than the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). White hoods, burning crosses, and other KKK iconography are familiar even to the most casual stu-dent of civil rights–era racial struggles. Popular accounts of anti–civil rights action, in particular those that focus on Mississippi, frequently portray the klan as a ubiquitous vigilante force, standing apart from mainstream institu-...
“It’s Time for Black Men . . .”: The Deacons for Defense and the Mississippi Movement
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The documentary film Black Natchez opens with an oath taken by an ini-tiate of the paramilitary Deacons for Defense. Deacons member James Jackson repeated the beginning of the oath that Natchez activist John Fitzgerald administered to him. The oath began “I do solemnly swear that I will not reveal or invade any of these above secrets.”1 In the article “‘We Will Shoot Back’: The Natchez Model and Para-Military Organization in the Mis-...
Robert Clark and the Ascendancy to Black Power: The Case of the Mississippi Black State Legislators
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Let’s see what you can do to deliver goods and services. . . . The thing I want to know is: are you going to feed my people? Are there going to be jobs and services and hospitals in my communities that are going to meet the needs of The Voting Rights Act of 1965 arguably serves as the most important leg-islative victory for blacks, save for the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fif-teenth Amendments. Indeed, prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, ...
“The Movement Is in You”: The Sunflower County Freedom Project and the Lessons of the Civil Rights Past
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As a fifth-grade public school teacher in Sunflower, Mississippi, in the mid-1990s, I discovered to my delight that our school library had a com-plete set of Eyes on the Prize, the extraordinary Blackside documentary about the civil rights movement. I had planned to incorporate civil rights history into my state-mandated American history class, and I thought excerpts from Eyes on the Prize would be a wonderful addition to my lessons. As I went to ...
“Looking the Devil in the Eye”: Race Relations and the Civil Rights Movement in Claiborne County History and Memory
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In my research on the black freedom struggle in Claiborne County, Missis-sippi, and its county seat of Port Gibson, I have found that there is remark-able consistency in the stories that blacks and whites tell.1 But though the details are similar, the meanings they attach to these stories are quite differ-ent. This is particularly important to understand and acknowledge because in Claiborne County, as in most of the country, white power has traditionally ...
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Chancellor Porter L. Fortune Symposium in Southern History Series