In 1963, Winson Hudson finally registered to vote in Leake County, Mississippi, when she interpreted part of the state constitution by saying, “It meant what it said and it said what it meant.” Her first attempt had been in 1937. A lifelong native of the rural, all-black community of Harmony, Winson has lived through some of the most racially oppressive periods in her state’s history--and has devoted her life to combatting discrimination. With her sister Dovie, Winson filed the first lawsuit to desegregate the public schools in a rural county. Helping to establish the county NAACP chapter in 1961, Winson served as its president for 38 years. Her work has included voting rights, school desegregation, health care, government loans, telephone service, good roads, housing, and childcare--issues that were intertwined with the black freedom struggle. Winson’s narrative, presented in her own words with historical background from noted author and activist Constance Curry, is both triumphant and tragic, inspiring and disturbing. It illustrates the virtually untold story of the role that African American women played in the civil rights movement at the local level in black communities throughout the South.
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Winson Hudson was born in Carthage, Mississippi in 1916. Her many honors include the NAACP's Freedom Award for Outstanding Community Service and inclusion in Brian Lanker's book of photographs of black women who changed America, I Dream a World. Constance Curry is an activist, attorney, and professor of women's studies at Emory University. She has written several books on the the civil rights movement, including Deep in Our Hearts and the award-winning Silver Rights.
"The combination of historical analysis from Curry and the modest but proud voice of Hudson should attract many readers...."--P. Harvey, Choice
"The lives of the Hudson sisters...are testaments to the unsung women of the civil rights movement..."--Newark Star-Ledger
"This history cannot be told too often. Too few young people know the price paid..."--Los Angeles Times
"Winson and Dovie Hudson, fearless sisters, were finally able to register to vote in 1962, inspiring other blacks in violence-prone Leake County, Mississippi, as well as those of us giving support from the outside."--Vernon Jordan, Former Director, The Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council
"How is the tender, unshakeable love that we have for our people kept alive in us? Through the music, yes, and even more profoundly, I believe, through the stories. Stories of real heroic lives lived full tilt into the face of some of the worst times human beings have ever known. Lives like those of Winson Hudson and her equally indomitable sister, Dovie. This precious book reveals some of who we mean when we so proudly and so humbly say 'we.'"--Alice Walker
"Winson Hudson and her sister Dovie were two of the most extraordinary behind-the-scenes women leaders in the civil rights movement. By telling Mrs. Hudson's remarkable story in her own words, Winson Hudson and Connie Curry have preserved an invaluable piece of American and Southern history. I hope a new generation will read this book and be inspired by Winson Hudson's untiring witness for social justice in Mississippi."--Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children's Defense Fund
"There is a nobility about Mrs. Hudson and her colleagues in the Harmony Community that has stayed with me in the almost forty years since I worked with them as a Justice Department lawyer and helped them in some modest measure to achieve the right to vote well before the enactment of the Voting Rights Act. It is time that these brave people who faced down the Klan and the [White] Citizen's Council received recognition and our nation's gratitude for their courage, perseverance, and dauntless spirit in the face of cruelty and oppression." --Judge Frank E. Schwelb
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