Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader

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Edited by Michael Edmonds

Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader documents the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, when SNCC and CORE workers and volunteers arrived in the Deep South to register voters and teach nonviolence, and more than 60,000 black Mississippians risked everything to overturn a system that had brutally exploited them.
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Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader
Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader
 
Product Details
Edited by Michael Edmonds

Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader documents the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, when SNCC and CORE workers and volunteers arrived in the Deep South to register voters and teach nonviolence, and more than 60,000 black Mississippians risked everything to overturn a system that had brutally exploited them.

In the 44 original documents in this anthology, you’ll read their letters, eavesdrop on their meetings, shudder at their suffering, and admire their courage. You’ll witness the final hours of three workers murdered on the project’s first day, hear testimony by black residents who bravely stood up to police torture and Klan firebombs, and watch the liberal establishment betray them.

These vivid primary sources, collected by the Wisconsin Historical Society, provide both firsthand accounts of this astounding grassroots struggle as well as a broader understanding of the civil rights movement.

Michael Edmonds is Deputy Director of the Library–Archives at the Wisconsin Historical Society and curator of its online collection of more than 25,000 pages documenting Freedom Summer. A 1976 graduate of Harvard University, he earned an MS degree at Simmons College in 1979 and taught part-time at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The author of several articles and books, Edmonds has won national awards from the American Folklore Society and the American Association for State and Local History.

Book Excerpt:
The following is an excerpt from a July 1964 letter written by Robert Feinglass, an Illinois college student assigned to voter registration work in northern Mississippi.

"Dear Dad,
I want to tell you about Mississippi and about the Freedom Movement here. It is not easy; my impressions are many and very strong. I have met the best and worst people here, the greatest courage and the greatest terror—sometimes in the same person. This Mississippi is a beautiful land of red earth and a thousand greens, made ugly by the squalor and hate which dominate the races who live here.
I work in voter registration. Three of us work together; one is a Negro. In as many cases as possible the Negro is made the project director, and such is the case here. The policy is a wise and effective one. On a normal day we roll out of bed early in the morning. We may have slept in the Freedom House, or in the home of some generous and brave farmer (two essential requirements for anyone to offer us hospitality). We study the map of the county, decide where we will work for the day. We scramble for breakfast and hit the road.
The work is long and hot. We drive from farmhouse to farmhouse. I have averaged almost 200 miles a day on the car. The roads are in despicable condition. We know where the colored people are by those roads: where the pavement stops the Negro sections are likely to begin. And if there is not even gravel on the roads, we can be reasonably sure that we are in a safe neighborhood. Such is not always the case, though, and more than once we have been cursed and threatened by someone for knocking on a white man’s door.
When we walk up to a house there are always children out front. They look up and see white men in the car, and fear and caution cover their expressions. Those terrified eyes are never quite out of my mind; they drive me as little else could. . . ."


Paperback, 256 pages, 19 b&w photos, 1 map

Available June 2014
SKU: 9780870206788
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