Like a Holy Crusade: Mississippi 1964--The Turning of the Civil Rights Movement in America

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9780929587967: Like a Holy Crusade: Mississippi 1964--The Turning of the Civil Rights Movement in America

A stirring and saddening account of the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 and the turning of the civil rights movement in America. Mills recalls the triumphs of the episode but also shows how the quest for racial solidarity turned divisive and laid the foundations for the black power movement. A very moving book, a chronicle of a remarkable moment. —Studs Terkel. Extremely readable and fair-minded....Mills lets participants speak for themselves, which many of them do with a touching eloquence. —New York Times Book Review

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From the Back Cover:

The idea behind the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 was as simple as it was daring. In a dramatic initiative of the civil rights movement, a thousand volunteers - most of them Northern white college students - were recruited to come south that summer to help "break" Mississippi and secure voting rights for its black citizens. Nicolaus Mills traces the history of that Mississippi summer, from its origins to its aftermath, and shows in detail how its consequences involved not only great victories but also violence (the murders of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, among other events) and disillusion. We remember the Kennedy men of the 1960s as "the best and the brightest"; we celebrate the Mercury astronauts for having "the right stuff". But, Mills writes, if anyone in the 1960s earned the right to be called heroes it was the men and women who risked their lives to carry out the Mississippi Summer Project. That summer took a terrible toll on staff, volunteers, and, above all, those black families who opened their homes to the movement. In the face of danger, courage was everywhere. The Summer Project focused the nation's attention on Mississippi and helped bring about the passage of important civil rights legislation. But Mills also argues persuasively that its noble quest for racial solidarity ultimately turned bitter and divisive. Tensions between staff and volunteers, held in check for most of the summer, surfaced when the Democratic party rejected the Mississippi Freedom Democrats at the 1964 national convention. In the disappointment that followed, the gains of the summer were forgotten and the stage set for Black Power, taking blacks and whites their separateways. Relations between the races took a crucial turning which continues powerfully to influence our politics and social well-being today. At a time of racial gridlock, Nicolaus Mills's compelling picture of the Summer Project as the good war of the 1960s helps to explain our current unrest while reminding us of what together we are capable of as a nation.

About the Author:

Nicolaus Mills' other books include Culture in an Age of Money (also published by Ivan R. Dee), The New Journalism, and The Crowd in American Literature. He teaches American Studies at Sarah Lawrence College.

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Mills, Nicolaus
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