Freedom Walk: Mississippi or Bust


The historic account of how a determined white postal worker became one of the earliest martyrs in the civil rights movement

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The historic account of how a determined white postal worker became one of the earliest martyrs in the civil rights movement

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Stanton, who restored Viola Liuzzo to history in From Selma to Sorrow (1998), offers a moving, well-written portrait of another overlooked civil-rights warrior: mail carrier Bill Moore. Moore launched a now-forgotten one-man campaign for African-American equality with his own two feet: having previously walked from Baltimore to Washington to hand-deliver a letter to President Kennedy pleading for an end to segregation, he set out from Chattanooga, Tennessee, in April 1963 carrying a signboard reading "Equal Rights for All (Mississippi or Bust)." His plan was to walk along US Highway 11 through lower Tennessee, northern Georgia, and northern Alabama on to Mississippi, where he intended to deliver another letter to Governor Ross Barnett, appealing for tolerance "as white southerner to white southerner." Along the way, Stanton writes, Moore met a few more or less enlightened white folks, some of whom shook his hand, some of whom were somewhat sympathetic but nonetheless opposed. (One woman told him, "Look, I'm a Christian and I don't wish the niggers no harm, but you're dead wrong about this integration business.") A few days into his long walk, Moore was shot dead by an Alabama grocer and Klansman who was eventually acquitted of the murder. He was the first civil-rights worker to die in the line of duty, but not the last. Retracing his steps and quoting liberally from the diary he kept, Stanton honors Moore and his brave efforts while examining his troubled life as "an economic failure, a loner, and an atheist in a society which distrusted all three." (He'd been treated for schizophrenia as well.) She also traces the post-1963 trajectory of Moore's murderer, who "learned to live with alocal reputation of being 'the man who'd gotten away with murder,' a dubious distinction which caused him to be admired by some of his neighbors and avoided by others." A fine contribution to the literature of the civil-rights movement and to Southern history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604735406
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 1/23/2003
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,409,491
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Stanton, an assistant public administrator of the town of Mamaroneck, N.Y., is the author of From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo. Her work has appeared in Southern Exposure, Gulf South Historical Review, and Government Executive.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction: Shadow History xiii
Part I The Postman's Walk
Walker 3
Student 10
Outsider 20
Patient 26
Activist 33
Crusader 42
Native 56
Agitator 61
Mixer 65
Victim 73
The Suspect 76
White Americans React 82
Black Americans React 91
The Civil Rights Establishment Reacts 93
Part II The Freedom Walk
Passing the Torch 99
Day One 104
Day Two 112
Day Three 119
Alabama Reacts 128
Freedom Now! 135
Without Remorse 140
Danville 145
Cognitive Dissonance 149
Another Direction 156
White Shadow of SNCC 167
Freedom Summer 171
Moving On 183
A March against Fear 195
Epilogue: Highway 11 Revisited 201
Appendix 1 The Walks and the Walkers 209
Appendix 2 Timeline 211
Notes 223
Bibliography 235
Index 243
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