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Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Blacks in the New World) First Edition Edition

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0252065071
ISBN-10: 0252065077
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Superbly realized history of the civil rights struggle in Mississippi in the 1960s. Dittmer lays in the background by giving an account of postwar voting registration efforts and then the rising tide of hope and violence that followed Brown v. Board of Education. Dittmer knows a number of the principals and has lived for many years in Mississippi; he is also a sure stylist. So his accounts of events such as the lynchings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman move one to outrage all over again. He is not quite up-to-date on Byron De La Beckworth, convicted murderer of Medgar Evers, but perhaps that detail will be taken care of by press time. John Mort --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Blacks in the New World
  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; First Edition edition (May 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252065077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252065071
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kasin on December 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Much of our common knowledge of U.S. civil rights movement's history comes from books and films portraying the nationally known struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. This book tells a different story - the struggles of the largely African American activists who, working without the benefit of the national spotlight, sought to open up the closed society of Mississippi to equal treatment for its African American citizens. It was a tremendous and extremely dangerous task. Mississippi was the toughest nut to crack among the Southern states. It was the most impoverished state in the union, where subjugation of African Americans was strictly enforced through intimidation, violence, disenfranchisement, job firings and economic ruin. Any sympathetic whites who dared to even question Mississippi justice were financially ruined and all but run out of the state. In this seemingly impossible to change social, political, and economic climate, a movement of local Mississippi African Americans emerged, with the help of activists from other states, who challenged the situation head-on by attempting to empower African Americans through voter registration drives, by attempting to set up cooperatives in order to gain economic power, and through education. The emphasis was not so much on organizing for desegregation of public facilities as it was on changing the power structure of Mississippi, to enfranchise its African American citizens and gain for them political and economic justice. Working from the bottom up, these activists had few allies, were largely ignored by the national media, and faced life threatening dangers on a daily and nightly basis. Many were savagely beaten, shot at, and repeatedly jailed. Several were murdered. They persisted, working diligently and out of the spotlight.Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Local People is a well-written, deeply-researched, and brilliantly conceived book. It takes the reader far beyond the civil rights celebrities and the TV history that is all too familiar, and roots the movement among the local folk of the black South. It also sees deeply into the politics of black liberation in those decisive years, giving us rich insights and telling anecdotes. Still more impressive, Local People manages to be a first-rate work of scholarship and a great read. If you have a history buff in the family or someone who likes American politics, this makes a great gift. My father couldn't put it down.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By n/a on April 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
In my opinion this work looks at the civil rights movement in a way that all historians shoud take note of. Dittmer's in-depth bottom up look at the way movements happen allows a deeper understanding of the incredible struggles that local Mississippians went through for a few small steps toward racial equality. It also knocks the national leaders (JFK, LBJ, MLK) off the pedestals that mainstream history has placed under them and shows the truly peripheral role that they played in the struggle.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you have any interest in the civil rights movement in Mississippi, this is the work you should turn to. It has great depth and is written with an enthusiastic flair that is not often found in similar works. I echo the comment....you won't be able to put it down until the last page is read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Marshall on November 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
John Dittmer's study of the Mississippi truly reaches the level of factual study that presents the reader with all the information needed to see the Mississippi civil rights movement on the ground. It provides the facts of the 1940's and 1950's, pointing out the 83,000 Mississippi African Americans who served in the armed forces in World War II and in those who returned to Mississippi as those who were important in no small part to the student civil rights movement that blossomed there in the 1960's.

To study the Mississippi movement without reading Dittmer's work is to fail to get a true picture as to what happened there. Taken together with Charles Payne's I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Stuggle, one is able to understand the Mississippi student civil movement of the 1960's to a large degree.
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