Local People by John Dittmer
The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Blacks in the New World)

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For decades the most racially repressive state in the nation fought bitterly and violently to maintain white supremacy. John Dittmer traces the monumental battle waged by civil rights organizations and by local people, particularly courageous members of the black communities who were willing to put their lives on the line to establish basic human rights for all citizens of the state. Local People tells the whole grim story in depth for the first time, from the unsuccessful attempts of black World War II veterans to register to vote to the seating of a civil rights-oriented Mississippi delegation at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Particularly dramatic - and heartrending - is Dittmer's account of the tumultuous decade of the sixties: the freedom rides of 1961, which resulted in the imprisonment at Parchman of dozens of participants; the violent reactions to protests in McComb and Jackson and to voter registration drives in Greenwood and other cities; the riot in Oxford when James Meredith enrolled at Ole Miss; the cowardly murder of long-time leader Medgar Evers; and the brutal Klan lynchings of civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman during the Freedom Summer of 1964. Dittmer looks closely at the policies and actions of the Kennedy administration, which, bowing to Mississippi's powerful senators John Stennis and James Eastland, refused to intervene even in the face of obvious collusion among local officials and vigilantes. Through oral history accounts readers will come to know many of the local people and grass-roots organizers who worked, and in some cases gave their lives, for the cause of civil rights. Among those whose stories are told areFannie Lou Hamer, the Sunflower County sharecropper who helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party; Victoria Gray and Annie Devine, who with Mrs. Hamer challenged the seating of Mississippi's congressional delegation in 1965; Bob Moses of SNCC, the most significant "ou

About John Dittmer

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Published June 1, 1994 by University of Illinois Press. 530 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Though some black activists attribute the movement's decline to the white influx during ``Freedom Summer,'' Dittmer suggests that rapid social changes nationally also weakened the movement's cohesion.

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After 1966, he contends, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had little impact on the Mississippi movement, whereas the grass-roots Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party made strides in black empowerment.

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