I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle

Charles M. Payne, Author
Charles M. Payne, Author University of California Press $45 (506p) ISBN 978-0-520-08515-2
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Paperback - 506 pages - 978-0-520-20706-6
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Not a comprehensive history of the civil rights movement in Mississippi, this thoughtful study instead analyzes the legacy of community organizing there. Payne, who teaches African American studies, sociology and urban affairs at Northwestern University, notes that the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), though grounded in youthful energy, gained much from the ``congealed experience'' of older leaders, such as Ella Baker and Septima Clark. Concentrating on the delta city of Greenwood, he offers useful profiles of local activists, showing that many came from families with traditions of social involvement or defiance. He also explores the disproportionate number of female volunteers, the older black generation's complex interactions with whites and the decline of organizing as the 1960s proceeded. And he notes that, despite an ideology of unity, black activists lost the capacity to work together. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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