Bausum, the author of two other excellent books about the civil rights movement (Freedom Riders, 2005; Marching to the Mountaintop, 2012), chronicles a largely overlooked but consequential event in the history of the movement.
James Meredith's 1966 march from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, began as a small-scale, peaceful protest for voter registration but quickly grew into one of the South's most important civil rights demonstrations when Meredith was shot in an assassination attempt one day into his trek. It brought together leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, the newly elected leader of SNCC, whose introduction of the words “black power” in a speech during the march ushered in a new era for the movement. In addition to painstakingly chronicling the pivotal moments during the march, Bausum thoughtfully depicts the tensions both between King and Carmichael and within the movement. She offers an insightful, revealing portrait of Meredith, and she describes how the media quickly developed a negative fixation on the phrase “black power.” Bausum convincingly shows that the March Against Fear “stands as one of the greatest protests of the civil rights era” and deftly explains the many complex reasons why it was relegated to a footnote rather than a highlight in history.
An exceptionally well-written and -researched account of a crucial civil rights turning point. (photos, bibliography, source notes) (Nonfiction. 12-18)