Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi

Overview

The world's eyes were on Mississippi during the summer of 1964, when civil rights activists launched an ambitious African American voter registration project and were met with violent resistance from white supremacists. Sue Sojourner and her husband arrived in Holmes County, Mississippi, in the wake of this historic time, known as "Freedom Summer."

From September 1964 until her departure from the state in 1969, Sojourner collected an incredible number of documents, oral ...

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Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi

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Overview

The world's eyes were on Mississippi during the summer of 1964, when civil rights activists launched an ambitious African American voter registration project and were met with violent resistance from white supremacists. Sue Sojourner and her husband arrived in Holmes County, Mississippi, in the wake of this historic time, known as "Freedom Summer."

From September 1964 until her departure from the state in 1969, Sojourner collected an incredible number of documents, oral histories, and photographs chronicling the dramatic events that she witnessed. In this remarkable book, written in collaboration with Cheryl Reitan, Sojourner presents a fascinating account of one of the civil rights movement's most active and broad-based community organizing operations in the South.

Thunder of Freedom unites Sojourner's personal experiences with her insights regarding the dynamics of race relations in the 1960s South, providing readers with a unique look at the struggle for rights and equality in Mississippi. Illustrated with selections from Sojourner's acclaimed catalog of photographs, this profound book tells the powerful, often intimate stories of ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Thunder of Freedom captures the struggles, the stories, and the spirit of the movement and the community organizing that brought about great change in that time and place. Now is the time to continue the march toward freedom until there is a level playing field for every child in Mississippi and in America."— Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund" —

"Finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards for memoir" —

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sue Lorenzi Sojourner is a veteran of the civil rights movement who worked with the citizens of Holmes County, Mississippi from fall 1964 through summer 1969 to achieve racial equality. She has produced two photography exhibitions using reproductions of her original 1960s photographs.

Cheryl Reitan is a university administrator and the editor of the alumni magazine for the University of Minnesota—Duluth. She has published short stories and articles in numerous literary and professional journals.

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Table of Contents

List of Photographs ix

Foreword John Dittmer xi

Reflections on the Local Movement by Lawrence Guyot xv

Preface xvii

List of Abbreviations xix

Part 1 Becoming Part of Holmes County

1 From California to Mississippi, August-September 1964 3

Their Stories: Sam and Laura Redmond

2 What We Walked Into: Early Voter Registration Efforts, Winter 1962-September 1964 23

Their Stories: Ralthus Hayes; John Daniel Wesley

3 Mileston, September-October 1964 45

Their Stories: Shadrach "Crook" Davis; Norman and Rosebud Clark

4 The Holmes County Community Center, November 1964-January 1965 67

Their Stories: Reverend Jesse James Russell

Part 2 Working with the People

5 The Congressional Challenge and Marching for Freedom, January-July 1965 81

Their Stories: Alma Mitchell Carnegie

6 School Desegregation, Head Start, and the Medical Committee, Spring 1965 to Early 1966 103

Their Stories: Kids Racing the Bug Sprayer

7 Voter Registration, December 1964-December 1965 127

Their Stories: McGee's Café

8 The Greenville Air Base Demonstration and the Community Action Program, January-December 1966 141

Their Stories: Rosie Head's Birthday Party; Reverend Joseph McChriston

Part 3 Building Political Strategies

9 Political Organizing, January-June 1966 157

Their Stories: Mr. and Mrs. Burrell Tate

10 The Meredith March, June-July 1966 173

Their Stories: Eugene Montgomery; A Group Gathers for a Countywide Meeting

11 The November 1966 Elections and Coalition Building, Fall 1966-January 1967 195

Their Stories: Rive People Comment about Henry Lorenzi

12 Reading "The Some People" Story and a Trip North, February-April 1967 211

Their Stories: Movement Visitors to the Balance Due House

Part 4 Developing the Slate of Candidates

13 Selecting the FDP Candidates from Holmes, January-June 1967 225

Their Stories: Robert G. Clark: The Day Is Coming

14 Black and White Issues with SNCC Workers, Summer 1967 239

Their Stories: Edgar Love and the Tchula Shootout; Alec Shimkin's Reflection

15 The Success of the 1967 Holmes County Elections, September-November 1967 259

Their Stories: Mary Lee Hightower; Robert G. Clark, at a Farmers Co-op Meeting; A Late-Flight Meeting with Robert G. Clark

16 Changed Lives: Celebrating the Movement and Its People 273

Afterword 275

Acknowledgments 277

Chronology of Movement Events in Holmes County and the United States 281

Index 295

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