20 Th Century

Download Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance by J. Todd Moye PDF

By J. Todd Moye

In the midst of the Mississippi Delta lies rural, black-majority Sunflower County. J. Todd Moye examines the social histories of civil rights and white resistance events in Sunflower, tracing the advance of organizing techniques in separate racial groups over 4 decades.Sunflower County used to be domestic to either James Eastland, some of the most robust reactionaries within the U.S. Senate within the 20th century, and Fannie Lou Hamer, the freedom-fighting sharecropper who rose to nationwide prominence as head of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic celebration. Sunflower was once the birthplace of the voters' Council, the white South's pre-eminent anti-civil rights association, however it used to be additionally a hotbed of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) organizing and a fountainhead of freedom culture.Using large oral historical past interviews and archival learn, Moye situates the fight for democracy in Sunflower County in the context of nationwide advancements within the civil rights move. Arguing that the civil rights stream can't be understood as a countrywide monolith, Moye reframes it because the accumulation of millions of neighborhood routine, each one with particular targets and techniques. via carrying on with the research into the Eighties, permit the folk come to a decision pushes the limits of traditional periodization, spotting the complete quantity of the civil rights circulation.

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Additional info for Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1945-1986

Sample text

Croppers also had to use owners’ cotton gins, which almost always meant that owners kept the cotton seed that the gins separated from the cotton fibers of the picked bolls. ∞≠ Landowners kept ledgers detailing how much seed, fertilizer, tools, and cash they had advanced to sharecroppers, then refused to let croppers check their arithmetic. Planters controlled the local government and made sure that schools for African Americans were inadequate. Sharecroppers who could not read, write, or figure could not very well challenge landowners’ balance sheets.

This diamond-shaped plain is technically known as the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, not to be confused with the alluvial delta at the mouth of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans. But to all Mississippians, many southerners, and generations of African Americans throughout the United States, the northwestern corner of Mississippi is simply ‘‘the Delta,’’ with no further specification needed. Sunflower County is in the center of the Delta. It stretches approximately sixty miles from its northern to southern border and appears on a map to be tall and thin.

They’re tired! ’’ Hamer continued, ‘‘And you, Reverend Tyler, must be Moses! ’’ Whether or not Reverend Tyler ever attempted to register is largely irrelevant. Hamer and her allies had to force their traditionally defined leaders to lead, if they led at all. In so doing, they redefined the notion of community leadership itself. ≤∏ The hydra-headed federal government was another reluctant partner to the civil rights movement in the years considered here. Washington began to play a major role in the Delta after a string of climatic and economic disasters beset the Delta in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

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