By J. Todd Moye
In the course of the Mississippi Delta lies rural, black-majority Sunflower County. J. Todd Moye examines the social histories of civil rights and white resistance routine in Sunflower, tracing the advance of organizing techniques in separate racial groups over 4 decades.Sunflower County used to be domestic to either James Eastland, essentially the most robust reactionaries within the U.S. Senate within the 20th century, and Fannie Lou Hamer, the freedom-fighting sharecropper who rose to nationwide prominence as head of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic get together. Sunflower used to be the birthplace of the electorate' Council, the white South's pre-eminent anti-civil rights association, however it used to be additionally a hotbed of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) organizing and a fountainhead of freedom culture.Using large oral historical past interviews and archival study, Moye situates the fight for democracy in Sunflower County in the context of nationwide advancements within the civil rights stream. Arguing that the civil rights flow can't be understood as a countrywide monolith, Moye reframes it because the accumulation of millions of neighborhood events, every one with particular targets and techniques. by means of carrying on with the research into the Nineteen Eighties, enable the folks make a decision pushes the limits of traditional periodization, spotting the entire volume of the civil rights circulate.
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Extra info for Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1945-1986
Blacks in Sunﬂower County were active politically and socially in the years before the period of this study, but they lacked the vocabulary of full citizenship. In the middle and latter decades of the twentieth century, they created this vocabulary. They launched mass movements to change their society and its governance and in the process claimed for themselves the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. ≤≤ In an atmosphere where African Americans were actively taught that they were not worth educating, that they were incapable of selecting their own political representatives, that they were low-down, lazy, and no-account in general, simply developing individual respect and identifying mass aspiration was a much more difﬁcult task than it may seem at ﬁrst glance.
At least three distinct though interconnected civil rights movements developed in Sunﬂower County between 1945 and 1986. A movement led by the county’s tiny group of black professionals and farm owners materialized in the years surrounding the Brown decision of 1954. It was quickly beaten back by white segregationists who used any and every form of intimidation available. The second movement, the major challenge to the hegemony of white planters in the Delta’s socioeconomic system, was organized by young African American and white idealists in the mid-1960s and revolved around the charismatic personality of a farm worker named Fannie Lou Hamer.
According to Fannie Lou Hamer, the homegrown leader of the Sunﬂower County poor people’s movement, ‘‘Ninety per cent of Negro people in Mississippi have gone to church all their lives. ’’ In the initial phase of Hamer’s movement, participants did just that: they bore witness to injustice, believing that witness would itself spur change. Freedom Summer, the 1964 project that brought hundreds of college students to Mississippi to register voters and teach in alternative schools, was an act of bearing witness.