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At book club, a friend of mine told a story He s a teacher, and he works in a very diverse school He s white, but he s very sensitive to the racial dynamics currently at play in The United States Trayvon Martin Michael Brown Eric Garner.He asked a colleague of his a black teacher born in Mississippi in the early 60s what she thought about what s happening.He said, Do you feel like, Oh no Here we go again Her response was, Not, here we go again, like will it ever end It s difficult for those of us who have never been oppressed genuinely oppressed to put ourselves into the shoes of those who have lived through long term, systematic oppression.And sure, we can talk about progress and the progress has been good But I remind myself of a quote by MalcolmYou don t stick a knife in a man s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you re making progress No matter how much respect, no matter how much recognition, whites show towards me, as far as I am concerned, as long as it is not shown to everyone of our people in this country, it doesn t exist for me Above all, the book Freedom Summer did 2 things for me It reminded me that the civil rights movement was expansive And it reminded me that people can make a difference.If you re up for it, take 30 seconds to close your eyes and list as many civil rights leaders as you can.Now, I don t know if you were able to list 2 or a thousand I bet I can list than most people because I m a social studies teacher, but as in many areas of my life I feel like there is so much I don t know.I bet Dr King and Rosa Parks made the list Did anybody else Maybe Malcolm X Maybe Ralph Abernathy Maybe John Lewis Definitely Martin Luther King, Jr Definitely Rosa Parks Maybe you saw Drunk History, so you know about Claudette Colvin Maybe Bob Moses Probably MLK, and Rosa Parks.Here s the point a movement isn t made of one or two people It s made of thousands and thousands of people risking something Now maybe you say they weren t all the thousands and thousands leaders, and that s a fair argument But it was than Dr King and his SCLC It was than SNCC.This book narrowed in and focused on one small portion of the Civil Rights Movement Freedom Summer The 1964 voter drive in Mississippi.Sometimes it s crazy to think about how far we aren t removed from segregation From the racist policies of our past My mother who happens to be fantastic drank from segregated water fountains She went to a segregated school I should probably interview her about this sometime.I m only 33 I m not talking about my great grandmother I m talking about my mom The one who made me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and told me to go outside and play.In 1964, an integrated group of people mainly students went into Mississippi to try to register African Americans.Suffice it to say, it was slow going.They weren t well received at least, not by the establishment The police were constantly harassing them The Klan, with all it s klonfusing language klept after them Burning klrosses in their yards, throwing Molotov Klocktails through the windows May I just interject here that I find that Klan language ridiculous I realize this won t win me too many Klan friends, but I couldn t help but laugh at the parts that mentioned the Klaverns or the Klan Klongress and its Klonstitution Or whatever Of course, this was a problem for the Northerns too They d gone down to help, and during training the volunteers were watching a CBS documentary on Mississippi disenfranchising black voters Volunteers seethed or sat disgusted But then the camera fell on a hideously fat man in a white shirt and horn rimmed glasses Laughter rippled through the auditorium SNCC staffers fumed This was no comical stereotype This was Theron Lynd, registrar in Forrest County, who had never registered a Negro until hit by a lawsuit The audience quieted as a black man onscreen told of a shotgun fired into his home, wounding two little girls, but when his wife came on in a funny hat, some giggled Several SNCCs stormed out When the documentary ended, another jumped onstage You should be ashamed You could laugh at that film We don t get it We hear words like Klongress and laugh at the ridiculousness of Klanspeak Klanguage Whatklever.But we forget that these are real people Who lynch real people Who sit around laughing as they re being tried for murder knowing there s no way in hell they re going to be convicted They re white Protecting white civilization.Here s a picture, mentioned towards the end of the book in reference to that last paragraph The SNCCs were right We should be ashamed for laughing By the way, if you clicked on the Claudette Colvin drunk history link above, the same point is made that Klanspeak is ridiculous but really, maybe I shouldn t be laughing at that joke Slight aside, I had some students using Ebola as a joke in class the other day, and a third student flipped out on them I m pretty sure they d seen it on Family Guy or South Park or something But this other student just eviscerated them for laughing at something that is literally destroying people s lives At their insensitivity At their immaturity.It was good for me to read this book To see that individual people can change things They have to give up their comforts, but it can be done.It was good to see add another layer to what I know To fully explore the depth of the Civil Rights movement To learn the names Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Moses.I want to go up to my friend s teacher friend and tell her, YES It will end And I m going to help end it I m only one person, but then, so is everybody else.Mississippi Goddam. Usually a history book is NOT what I would pick up, but after trying civil disobedience this summer, and finding parallels with the civil rights era, I wanted to learn I found this book riveting, as well as thoroughly well researched and peppered with quotes and primary sources I was struck by the sacrifices that SNCC Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee volunteers made Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney with their lives I read this with a curiosity about what drives movements What convinced these upper crust white college students to risk their lives and spend a summer in Mississippi If climate activism, or the 99%, is the movement of our time, what will motivate this generation to take similar actions that bear great risk I remember the summer of 1964 very well I watched most of it on the TV evening news where I gathered with fellow Peace Corps trainees in the evenings at Indiana University and for two weeks at Indiana State in Terra Haute We had classes all day history of Africa and Sierra Leone, public health lectures, phys ed, Krio language, etc etc It was really like going to summer school except that we all lived together in Quonset huts left over from WWII and stuck together because we never had a free minute from 7 in the morning till 9 or 10 at night.Before 1964, I had never been particularly tuned in to Civil Rights I don t even remember hearing about the murder of Emmit Till until many years later, but 1964 was the summer when SNCC volunteers mostly college students from the north went to Mississippi to run Freedom Schools and help the blacks register to vote often having to convince them first that they deserved to take the same role as the whites in a democracy And it was the summer when 3 Civil Rights workers were murdered by a bunch 18 19 of racists and KKK members who got a backhoe and buried them under a dam being built It took all summer for the FBI to find informants who eventually led them to the bodies It was the summer when the country was really shocked to discover that white Mississippi would stoop to beatings and murder to preserve their way of life , i.e., to keep blacks in their place It was also the summer where the Freedom Democrats tried unsuccessfully to get seated at the Democratic convention to supplement or replace the illegally chosen white Democrats And I felt twinges of guilt all summer I was going to Africa to help blacks and not going to Mississippi because I wanted to see the world, other cultures, etc When at the airport in NY a man laughed at us and said, IF you want to help blacks, I can just take you to Harlem and you can work there You don t have to go to Africa , I felt another twinge I was tuned into JFK s Ask Not message, but from the first tuned into the Peace Corps as the chance of a lifetime to see the world no one else saw in those days, ordinary people who went abroad went to Europe and that s about all.Bruce Watson s book is a worthwhile read, especially for those who don t know much about the Civil Rights movement and about this experiment by America s young liberals It will be an eye opener Although Watson slides into some purplish prose every once in awhile which I didn t mind because I shared his views this is an excellent history of Freedom Summer As well as profiling the leaders and providing an excellent overview of Mississippi history since the Civil War, it focuses on four of the volunteers who they were, why they joined, what happened to them in Mississippi even where they are now The murder of Chaney, Goodwin and Schwerner is a story that s told piece by piece since, though the murder happened on the first day of Freedom Summer June 21st it reverberated through the whole period as the mystery of their disappearance was gradually unraveled in all its sordidness And in the end, Mississippi refused to prosecute anyone and the only trial was when the Federal government brought suit for Civil Rights violations, which the defendants laughed at And while that murder was undoubtedly the worst thing that happened during Freedom Summer, it was certainly not the only violence Watson even tells the story of an insurance agent who defended the the work of Freedom Summer and, as a result, his business was ruined, his family harassed and they were eventually forced to move out of the state Violence was meted out to blacks who dared to want to register as well as to the uppity Northerners, Jews and Communists who presumed to challenge Mississippi ways and help them And if you wonder why Mississippi than any other southern state, Watson tackles that question too.The final chapters of the book focus on the impact of Freedom Summer, particularly on the heart breaking defeat at the Democratic Convention A mealy mouth compromise was reached and Humbert Humphrey cried too when he proposed it Lyndon Johnson knew he couldn t seat the Freedom Democrats without taking the very great risk that Goldwater would be elected when the entire Southern delegation left the Democrats as they threatened He tasked Humphrey with seeing that the delegation wasn t seated Politics trumped conscience on that one But Watson also chronicles how Mississippi changed and changed relatively quickly after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and after the awful publicity from Freedom Summer business and tourism were affected seriously Many citizens who had been afraid to speak out when the voices of hate ruled began to make themselves heard Mississippi, with a majority of black citizens, began to let blacks register and win some elections.Not all of the blowback from Freedom Summer was benign SNCC became increasingly divided over the issue of nonviolence Stokley Carmichael and others moved to black power and discouraged the participation of whites in Civil Rights issues Violence broke out in Northern cities, proving that racist and bigotry were not exclusively Southern phenomena. Freedom Summer The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, or Freedom Summer, is a nonfiction history written in 2010 by the journalist Bruce Watson The events that take place within Freedom Summer revolve around the civil rights movement fostered by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC pronounced Snick , that occurred in the summer of 1964 across Mississippi Facts, quotes, and events recorded by Watson are derived from other historical books such as Letters from Mississippi by Elizabeth Martinez, as well as by the interviewing of key individuals in the movement such as Chris Williams, Muriel Tilinghast, Fran O Brian, Fred Bright Winn, and over one thousand Freedom Summer attempts to bring light to a portion of history within the United States that is normally slid under the rug, briefly discussed, or often ignored completely in order to better honor individuals that risked their lives for progressive reform within America that has ultimately affected the politics of this country even to this date Freedom Summer is divided into portions, or books, with the first being Crossroads, followed by A Bloody Peace Written in the Sky, and finally concluded with the Epilogue Crossroads, which includes the Prologue, describes the forming of SNCC, the state of the Union before 1964 with a brief history of regression back to a time before Civil Reform after the Reconstruction, and the purpose of SNCC as well as other key organizations involved with the Freedom Summer movement Crossroads shows SNCC volunteers being trained, deployed to Mississippi, being attacked and murdered in the case of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, the governments position on the movement as well as their inactivity in the case of broken federal laws, or the enforcement of any, and finally, Crossroads discusses SNCC s purpose over the summer of integrating the most racist city in the south, making blacks feel like humans, educating them with Freedom Schools, and registering them as voters The second section of Freedom Summer, A Bloody Peace Written in the Sky concludes the progress set up in the first section Schwerners , Goodmans , and Chaneys remains are finally found with some of the men being involved in the murder being arrested at the close of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty first centuries blacks are registered across Mississippi and form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party MFDP violence continues to run rampant across the state, but change is being made Freedom Schools educate enthusiastic children and adults eager to learn and the MFDP makes its way towards Washington to make a difference on the national scale in its pursuit of becoming a legal party in Mississippi In the second book of Freedom Summer, the summer draws to a close, volunteers return home or stay on, and many leave feeling unaccomplished as the MFDP fail due to politics, but time passes generations and change is finally made in Mississippi, even if it is forced upon the state The Epilogue, concludes Freedom Summer with many important facts It includes the arrests of key individuals that hindered civil rights within Mississippi, the progress made across Mississippi as President Johnson s new legislation, as well as those after him, forces Mississippi to finally comply with the civil rights laws, blacks are elected to offices across the state, key KKK members are finally put to justice, and Freedom Summer comes full circle as the stories of key volunteers come to a close and Barrack Obama is elected President of the United States bringing purpose to all of the effort Watson wanted to achieve many things with Freedom Summer, but a recurring element throughout the book was the idea that it was possible to make a difference in the toughest place in America with the toughest ideals since the founding of the nation Despite what the rest of the country believed, these volunteers from Ivy League schools really did make a difference if not initially through legislation then by making Mississippi blacks feel human The goal of the SNCC volunteers in a broad sense was to get voter registration in order to create the MFDP and challenge Mississippi s current leading party, but they were also trying to do than that Volunteers were trying to show blacks and whites that there was no difference between the two, and that blacks were humans with the same right to respect, love, and friendship as anyone else To succeed in these goals volunteers built Freedom School to educate blacks on black history and give them a chance to ask questions, receive real answers, and feel a part of the learning process and to open their minds Volunteers lived in integrated homes with black hosts and spoke to blacks with respect and just as they would a white person and by doing these things they showed the black population that they were indeed human and not worthless In order to gain votes and increase voter registration, volunteers canvassed across town, held voter registration classes, and informed and persuaded blacks how to and why voting was important Although the movements leader, Bob Moses, felt otherwise and only received a little over 60,000 votes instead of his intended 400,000, the MFDP was formed, tens of thousands of blacks became registered voters, the atrocities of Mississippi were publicized across the nation and world, and the national government was forced to intervene, so yes, Freedom Summer was successful The only proof needed to see this is the fact that blacks serve in office in Mississippi than any other state, and the fact that Barrack Obama was elected president It is very easy to see that the nation was changed dramatically as result of Freedom Summer From people s reactions to the racism still strong in the South, to the many legislative acts passed because of the summer of 1964, America changed after Freedom Summer for the better Freedom Summer did than just expand the civil rights movement, however, as gender soon became an issue as well Gender roles were places in the placement of assignments within SNCC offices with many women being placed in typewriting, secretary, teacher, and other commonly woman roles while being denied other roles during the summer The paper Women in the Movement was published due to these decisions to deny women top decision making roles, which didn t cause an initial reaction, but in time it would lead to a new civil rights movement Another paper, Sex and Caste A Kind of Memo, written by Casey Hayden and Mary King also touches on the topic of woman s rights and as the paper was written with their time as SNCC volunteers, this memo correlates directly with the civil rights movement happening between the races in Freedom Summer Hayden and King claim the treatment of woman and even the response when confronted about the issue is nearly identical to that of white and black segregation As whites seem to believe themselves superior to blacks and think that s the way it s supposed to be, men, both white and black, respond in the same way to woman about their position Hayden and King state the treatment is similar to a caste system, and in The Trouble Between Us by Winifred Breines, the same problems are stated The division lies even than just beyond sex, as stated in the paper, and differences between the treatment of black women and white women were different as well It is very apparent that although the issues of race were being addressed it would take another movement to address the faults between gender The Trouble Between Us goes even further in its accusations than the feminist movement and claims the notion that the history of the civil rights movement is something that happens when White Folks show up and stops when they leave The paper continues to address how the publicity of Freedom Summer downplays the importance and impact of the local black movements that were occurring before 1964 For this reason among others The Trouble Between Us is critical of Freedom Summer, and rightly so With divisions among SNCC in leadership, race and gender issues within the group, and the resentment that groups of volunteers felt towards other over or under privileged volunteers greatly hindered the movement and proved that SNCC was not a flawless movement nor was Freedom Summer SNCC was a very flawed group that came together under strange and unorganized times and was never truly cohesive with groups forming throughout the group wanting to isolate themselves from other groups until SNCC s disbandment But despite all of its flaws and denial of woman s rights, Freedom Summer was still effective and necessary in its goals to integrate, educate, and uplift the South from racial tensions and division Mississippi is a peculiar state given the circumstances When many states were progressing in civil rights Mississippi was moving backwards if at all, and the violent resistance to integration showed the strong historical ties the state holds Relying on age old grudges dating to pre Civil war era s and the damage done to the state due to Reconstruction the state was truly brainwashed by their own ideas that blacks were inferior and happy about it Mississippi is a good example, as Germany was after World War I, of how destroying a state beyond repair and crippling its economy over certain ideals will only create grudges and instill those ideals strongly into those who failed to keep them Freedom Summer was an extremely enlightening book, just as Hiroshima was It is easy to think of a movement, event, or period as a whole and forget about the individuals, the days, or the delay of progress Freedom Summer helps remind one to not forget about the individuals like Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman, but also the work and stories of less prominent figures like Chris Williams and Muriel Tilinghast who sacrificed their summer for a movement they believed was important Freedom Summer reminds you of the kids in college who came to the South knowing they would be beaten, abused, shot at, and maybe even murdered, but came anyways because they believed in something Bruce Watson has compiled a wonderfully descriptive book which helps to highlight these sacrifices made for the movement that changed America There are times in ones life, such as during the election of Obama when one can ponder why individuals would vote for a man simply for the color of his skin, and then there are books like Freedom Summer that shed light on why something like that is so important The idea that a black man could become president was inconceivable just a few years ago and yet today that is fact Some SNCC volunteers left Freedom Summer feeling unaccomplished after having the MFDP rejected at the Democratic Convention, but progress was made so evident just by the fact that Obama could be president Bruce Watson highlighted the goals of SNCC and even if the volunteers who made it happen didn t believe it, Watson shows how looking back now reveals the evident changes that occurred because a bunch of college students wanted to go to Mississippi for the summer Was SNCC flawless No, but neither is any organization There were social issues rampant throughout the program Women were denied executive positions, blacks and whites resented one another, and at a time when people were trying to prove integration was necessary interracial sex was taboo, but the program continued Bombs destroyed homes, churches, and offices, people were thrown in prison, and lawlessness ran wild, but SNCC continued receiving thousands of dollars of donation to combat the bills, volunteers swarmed areas to rebuild homes and hope, and Freedom Summer continued on That is the message from the book Despite everything that was happening bombs, bullets, beatings, government negligence, and even the thought that they weren t making a difference, volunteers stayed on Why Because they saw what would happen if they didn t They saw the lives of those they had effected and knew what was waiting for them if people stopped believing in them and went back to their carefree lives They stayed on because they had no choice, and because just talking to another human being as a person with his or her own ideas could change years of oppression Bruce Watson compiled stories, articles, and events News organizations covered murders and trials Freedom Summer changed lives. Despite having already read a number of books about the degradations that the South, and Mississippi in particular, have inflicted upon the blacks after the Civil War, I was terribly moved by this book In essence, this book is about the summer of 1964 in which great efforts were made to allow the blacks of Mississippi to have the same rights of citizenship that white people enjoyed Rights that one would have thought they had obtained after being freed as slaves a century earlier I could talk at length about this book s contents, but I ll limit it to just three of many reactions I had while reading it First, the dynamics of the situation that this book covers are well related to that of the American troops that served in occupied Iraq, constantly dealing with the dangers of the insurgency Unfortunately for the freedom volunteers in Mississippi, they had similar dangers, but without all the weapons and body armor to protect them Second, there is a dramatic element to the author s writing that at first bothered me This is a history and historians don t embellish the facts But then it occurred to me, if one person is beaten to a pulp, shot dead, and chopped into pieces because another person regards the first person as no better than a mongrel dog, does it really step over the line if the writer goes a step further and points out that this might be a bad thing And third, I don t recall ever reading another book in which each time I picked it up to start reading further, I found myself quickly awash in thoughts about a myriad of issues related to the story and my relationship to those issues It was like an internal book club discussion being reconvened every new time I started reading I had to stop myself and just read And as compelling as my inner thoughts were, the new sections I would be reading were always even compelling Finally, even though the book ends with better news about the subsequent state of race relations in Mississippi, it was the day before I finished the book that CNN had a new story about black victims of hit and run accidents by whites and of incidents that the white authorities failed to investigate for over three years until CNN started pushing the matter The reaction from one of the county sheriffs could have been word for word from the sheriffs that abused the freedom volunteers so badly back in 1964. This book was an eye opener I was vaguely aware that the South, during the Jim Crow era, was a festering hellhole but I was shocked by the degree of brutality described in this book But while I was nauseated by the descriptions of racial hatred and violence, I was left in awe of the individuals who, at great peril to their lives, traveled to Mississippi to advance the cause of civil rights for Black Americans This is the kind of book that makes you want to be a better person. |Free E-pub ⚆ Freedom Summer ☿ A Riveting Account Of One Of The Most Remarkable Episodes In American History In His Critically Acclaimed History Freedom Summer, Award Winning Author Bruce Watson Presents Powerful Testimony About A Crucial Episode In The American Civil Rights Movement During The Sweltering Summer Of , Than Seven Hundred American College Students Descended Upon Segregated, Reactionary Mississippi To Register Black Voters And Educate Black Children On The Night Of Their Arrival, The Worst Fears Of A Race Torn Nation Were Realized When Three Young Men Disappeared, Thought To Have Been Murdered By The Ku Klux Klan Taking Readers Into The Heart Of These Remarkable Months, Freedom Summer Shines New Light On A Critical Moment Of Nascent Change In America Recreates The Texture Of That Terrible Yet Rewarding Summer With Impressive Verisimilitude Washington Post Ask just about anyone on the street about the Civil Rights Movement, and you ll get the same answer from probably everyone, the same names will be dropped JFK, King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X It s a short list, and an incredibly incomplete one Bruce Watson introduces the reader to hundreds of heroes we ve never met volunteers working in Mississippi in the summer of 1964, alongside Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, Stokely Carmichael and other names who really should be in our consciousness Names like Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner, volunteers who never made it out of Mississippi as well as Fran O Brien, Chris Williams and Fred Winn, white college students who spent their summer teaching, registering voters, building schools and bringing hope and attention to the population that most Americans were content to ignore The stories these volunteers had to share about their experiences in Mississippi were frustrating, often heart breaking, but always astonishing I had to continually remind myself that I was reading about the country I grew up in, only 50 years past We re taught about the lynchings, the fear tactics, the violence and the bombings, but I don t think that most people realize that these things were happeningdaily , and often were unprovoked The Freedom Summer is especially interesting, because the events that occurred there, Watson posits, led to a complete transformation of the Civil Rights movement and the people involved Watson incorporates letters, newspaper headlines and excerpts from interviews from the volunteers and members of SNCC, to tell a very powerful story about a period in American history that remains relevant and controversial. Freedom Summer tells the story of Mississippi during the summer of 1964 when hundreds of college students from across the US traveled to Mississippi to open Freedom Schools, run voter registration drives and education, and support African Americans stepping into County Courthouses to register to vote It was a summer of terror for all, for African Americans standing watch with rifles and shotguns to the young students whom they were protecting White Mississippians were terrified of the changes to come from the invasion of these outsiders, which included the FBI This is the summer told of in the film Mississippi Burning in which 3 civil rights workers are murdered One of the most interesting chapters of the book is the epilogue, which tells of the reaction of the civil rights workers and the residents of Mississippi Whites were outraged that once again they were shown at their racist worst when they have made progress in Mississippi The civil rights workers were outraged that Blacks were shown as helpless and the FBI were heroes This was not the case in the summer of 1964 I do most of my reading by audiobook and Freedom Summer was a good choice for my commute Performer David Drummond held my attention and engaged my imagination with subtle shifts in voice to indicate speakers His accents, from New England to the Deep South, were effective and never sounded fake The story is told through extensive research with interviews and letters so that the voices of the civil rights workers are clear Freedom Summer is highly recommended as an education for those not yet born in 1964 and a reminder to those who were that there are still pockets of poverty and racism in the USA. Sit ins, voting registration drives, literacy programs, the changing of the guard in a long fought Civil Rights Movement, all came to a head in the summer of 1964 Bruce Watson does a wonderful job documenting it, and the violence that came along with that change, at length This is the summer in which Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer and other Civil Rights activists began to buy in to the tactics of a younger generation that was tired of waiting for Civil Rights Laws to just happen as whites realized how wrong they were Still, violence helped ignite the movement Watson does a nice describing the impact of the deaths of SNCC workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner Their murders became a national story, and helped create a groundswell of support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 When mothers and fathers realized that these anti integration folks, these mean southern men, were willing to kill their white sons as well, it alerted the nation to the alarming truths of southern racism They were not peaceful separate but equal places as the nation had been led to believe, but a hotbed of racial tension and violence.