cover image Challenging the Mississippi Firebombers: Memories of Mississippi

Challenging the Mississippi Firebombers: Memories of Mississippi

Jim Dann. Baraka Books (IPG, North American dist.), $19.95 trade paper (236p) ISBN 978-1926824871

In the sixties, Reconstruction long defeated, the South was a racially stratified society whose violently totalitarian state governments conspired to deny basic rights of African Americans. Of all the Southern states, Mississippi was arguably the worst. In 1964, Dann, then with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, joined the effort to bring change to the South. His book details the struggle to convince the whites to share power, a development the White Citizen Councils were so set against they were willing to kill. Backed with the tepid support of a federal government embarrassed by the stark contrast between the ideal of America and the reality, brave volunteers, white and black, offered their lives and more to bring justice to the United States. Dann takes us into that world, relating the frequent arrests and brutal KKK counter-reaction that characterized that great struggle. Ultimately, Freedom Summer prevailed, although more work remains to be done, as the Trayvon Martin verdict and conflict over Stand Your Ground laws starkly and painfully demonstrated in 2013. This book is a reminder that the situation in the past was worse; and the reality of progress in the past offers hope of progress in the future. (Sept.)