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The Freedom Summer Murders Hardcover – April 29, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—The June 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi's Neshoba County merits study and reflection not only as a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement but also as a yardstick to measure our country's progress since then toward true racial equality. Why? Because, as Mitchell and others repeatedly suggest in this authoritative and brutally honest chronicle, a major reason that, of the many racial atrocities committed in the South, this one gained such intense national attention and led to decades of investigations and trials is that two of the three victims were white. The author never makes an explicit connection with current events in Florida and elsewhere, but thoughtful readers will have no trouble connecting the dots. He also never uses the word "terrorism," but he clearly shows it in action by detailing the systematic campaign of threats, intimidation, assaults, and worse to which African Americans, particularly in Mississippi but also throughout the Jim Crow South, were subjected by whites—including, often, law enforcement officials. Distilling court records, printed sources, and original interviews with surviving family members, the author sets the ugly scene, describes the murders, recounts in detail the ensuing efforts to bring the killers to justice (or at least, as he puts it, "a measure of justice"), and offers biographical sketches both of the victims and of four associated heroes who played important roles in the case. A timely, essential account, illustrated with contemporary photos and capped with extensive endnotes and source notes.—John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, New York City
During the Freedom Summer in 1964, volunteers came to Mississippi to help locals with black voter registration. There were many ramifications, but the most shocking event was the murders of young civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Full of original research and interviews with many personally involved, including the victims’ families, this book goes into detail about what occurred and how the perpetrators were brought to at least partial justice. Better organization and a cast of characters would have helped readers sort out who was who. When the book gets rolling, however, the drama catches readers and doesn’t let go. One of the book’s most interesting points is how little interest American society had in civil rights violations against African Americans in the Deep South; when two white men were killed, though, the federal government and the media turned their spotlights on the issue. The black-and-white photographs are plentiful, and some are quite dramatic. An eye-opening read for young people, especially those coming to the Freedom Summer for the first time. Grades 6-9. --Ilene Cooper
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Top Customer Reviews
Young readers should be aware of what took place during those sickening sixties regarding the struggle African-Americans had to achieve basic rights such as the right to vote. This book is especially timely now due to attempts to suppress the right to vote now that the Supreme Court in its "wisdom" did away with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Hate is a terrible thing and the three men who grace the cover of this book paid the ultimate price in the interest of serving others.
I would strongly suggest readers also acquire the DVD entitled "Murder in MIssissippi" which deals with this tragic case. I believe this DVD is superior to "Mississippi Burning" which contains too much profanity to show in schools. In addition I believe "Murder in Mississippi" does a superior job anyway. It is a must see movie to go along with this new book The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell.
With 30 pages of end notes and almost 10 pages of bibliography, this piece of history was well researched. I was vaguely familiar with this event and am pleased that I was able to learn more about these heroes of the civic rights movement. Now I need to go track down the movies and documentaries.
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