Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders

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A beautifully-produced book that celebrates the Freedom Riders, featuring rare-seen mug shots alongside stunning contemporary portraits.

In the spring and summer of 1961, several hundred Americans—blacks and whites, men and women—converged on Jackson, Mississippi, to challenge state segregation laws. The Freedom Riders, as they came to be known, were determined to open up the South to civil rights: it was illegal for bus and train stations to discriminate, but most did and were ...

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2008 Hardcover New 097774339X. Flawless copy, brand new, pristine, never opened--240 pp., photos throughout, over seventy contemporary photos alongside the original mug shots, ... and exclusive interviews with former Freedom Riders, 4to. Read more Show Less

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Overview

A beautifully-produced book that celebrates the Freedom Riders, featuring rare-seen mug shots alongside stunning contemporary portraits.

In the spring and summer of 1961, several hundred Americans—blacks and whites, men and women—converged on Jackson, Mississippi, to challenge state segregation laws. The Freedom Riders, as they came to be known, were determined to open up the South to civil rights: it was illegal for bus and train stations to discriminate, but most did and were not interested in change. Over 300 people were arrested and convicted of the charge "breach of the peace."

The name, mug shot, and other personal details of each Freedom Rider arrested were duly recorded and saved by agents of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a Stasi-like investigative agency whose purpose was to "perform any and all acts deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi." How the Commission thought these details would actually protect the state is not clear, but what is clear, forty-six years later, is that by carefully recording names and preserving the mug shots, the Commission inadvertently created a testament to these heroes of the civil rights movement.

Collected here in a richly illustrated, large-format book featuring over seventy contemporary photographs, alongside the original mug shots, and exclusive interviews with former Freedom Riders, is that testament: a moving archive of a chapter in U.S. history that hasn't yet closed.

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Editorial Reviews

Julian Bond
“Breach of Peace literally gives faces to the faceless and anonymous heroines and heroes who changed America in 1961.”
The New Yorker - Hendrik Hertzberg
“The interview excerpts bring to life the experience these people shared—not just the rides, the arrests, and the beatings but also, in many cases, the weeks or months they spent in jail afterwards....We learn what they were doing before the rides and what they have done since….[Etheridge’s] solid feel for his subject is evident throughout this marvelous, moving book.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
In the foreword to Breach of Peace, Diane McWhorter observes that the victories of the civil rights movement have "an inevitability bestowed by hindsight." Eric Etheridge's stunning book collects the mug shots of the several hundred Freedom Riders arrested in 1961 while attempting to integrate bus and train terminals in Jackson, Mississippi, and it is an immediate, gripping reminder of both the risks that were taken in the civil rights struggle and of who took them. The group, half black and half white (a quarter were women), was remarkably young; in their faces we see strength, courage, defiance, dignity, and, occasionally, fear. The mug shots, which were only recently made public, have been compiled by Etheridge, who juxtaposes them with present-day photographs of the Riders and their recollections about the experience. "We were not afraid to die," says one. "I was scared witless," recalls another. With the Jackson jails quickly filled to capacity, Freedom Riders were sent to the maximum-security state penitentiary, where those who refused bail could languish for weeks and months. Many, looking back, speak of the brutal conditions at the prison, but quite a few now view their incarceration as a formative period of growth and learning, with Communists and pastors debating political strategy and with black and white activists, in segregated cells, communicating (and infuriating the guards) by singing freedom songs to each other across the divide. --Barbara Spindel
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780977743391
  • Publisher: Atlas
  • Publication date: 5/22/2008
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 12.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Etheridge grew up in Carthage, Mississippi. He is a former editor at Rolling Stone, The New York Observer and Harper's. He lives in New York City.

Diane McWhorter is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama—The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution and a long-time contributor to the New York Times.

Roger Wilkins is a journalist whose editorials about the issues leading up to President Richard Nixon's resignation won him a Pulitzer Prize; he is also a distinguished professor of history at George Mason University.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    A reviewer

    This was amazing I was shock at how many people from many ethnos that participated in this event. My father was one of the Freedom Riders he is featured in this book Larry Bell, from Los Angeles. After the making of such accounts, he shared with us how much work went into changing some of this country's policies. This is a great country, and it has good people in it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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