Breach of peace: portraits of the 1961 Mississippi freedom riders

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Atlas & Co., Jul 31, 2008 - History - 239 pages
4 Reviews
In the spring and summer of 1961, several hundred Americans--blacks and whites, men and women--converged on Jackson, Mississippi, to challenge state segregation laws. The Freedom Riders, as they came to be known, were determined to open up the South to civil rights: it was illegal for bus and train stations to discriminate, but most did and were not interested in change. Over 300 people were arrested and convicted of the charge "breach of the peace."

The name, mug shot, and other personal details of each Freedom Rider arrested were duly recorded and saved by agents of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a Stasi-like investigative agency whose purpose was to "perform any and all acts deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi." How the Commission thought these details would actually protect the state is not clear, but what is clear, forty-six years later, is that by carefully recording names and preserving the mug shots, the Commission inadvertently created a testament to these heroes of the civil rights movement.

Collected here in a richly illustrated, large-format book featuring over seventy contemporary photographs, alongside the original mug shots, and exclusive interviews with former Freedom Riders, is that testament: a moving archive of a chapter in U.S. history that hasn't yet closed.

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User Review  - NatalieSW - LibraryThing

Absolutely wonderful book. Photos of the Freedom Riders then, and many of them now, with biographical notes from interviews about how the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA intersected ... Read full review

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User Review  - AbigailAdams26 - LibraryThing

What is it that impels people to become involved in movements for social change? That they feel strongly, it goes without saying. But what makes them choose to get involved? What makes them decide ... Read full review


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About the author (2008)

Eric Etheridge grew up in Carthage, Mississippi. He is a former editor at "Rolling Stone, The New York Observer" and "Harper's". He lives in New York City. Roger Wilkins is a journalist whose editorials about the issues leading up to President Richard Nixon's resignation won him a Pulitzer Prize; he is also a distinguished professor of history at George Mason University. Diane McWhorter is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama--The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution" and a long-time contributor to the "New York Times".

Roger Wilkins was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Watergate. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Diane McWhorter, who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, is a long-time contributor to "The New York Times" and writes for the Op-Ed page of "USA Today." Her articles about race, politics, and culture have appeared in many national publications, including "The Washington Post. Carry Me Home" is her first book. She lives in New York City.

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