Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi

John Dittmer, Author
John Dittmer, Author University of Illinois Press $29.95 (530p) ISBN 978-0-252-02102-2
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
Paperback - 530 pages - 978-0-252-06507-1
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Dittmer's stirring history of the struggle for racial justice in Mississippi tells the story in all its grim, often shocking detail. He delivers a damning indictment of the Kennedy administration for its half-hearted policies and failure to enforce the Supreme Court's ban on segregation. White churches, the author shows, consistently opposed black demands for equality and offered no leadership during the crucial 1960s. 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. Along with key figures, such as Medgar Evers and James Meredith, Dittmer, a DePauw history professor, profiles dozens of unsung heroes. He also demonstrates that women played a dominant role in the black freedom campaigns of the '60s. His assessment of gains and setbacks to date (``More than half the state's black children . . . were living below the poverty line in 1990'') will jolt readers. Photos. (June)
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