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Publishers WeeklyArch, co-founder of the U.S. Public Service Academy and a former elementary school teacher in Mississippi's Sunflower County, chronicles the life and times of two Sunflower natives who became central civil rights figures: U.S. Senator James Eastland, scion of one of the region's oldest plantation families, and Fanny Lou Hamer, the sharecroppers' daughter who led the drive for voting rights in Mississippi. Hamer's involvement began in August, 1962, when she joined a group of 17 other African-Americans registering to vote; that courageous decision got her kicked off the plantation where her family eked out an existence. After that, "the movement" literally became her home, and she worked feverishly overly the following years to challenge the status quo. As the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Eastland fought long and hard against the demands of Hamer and others, successfully watering down civil rights initiatives in 1957 and killing them outright in '66. Asch does a commendable job illuminating mid-twentieth century cotton kingdom economics while keeping his narrative moving. Though Eastland looms larger in these pages, it's satisfying to watch the tide of history overtake the largely unrepentant (and all but forgotten) senator, and see Hamer, famously "sick and tired of being sick and tired," become a legend in the Delta and throughout the country.
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