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The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

by Bruce Watson ; adapted by Rebecca Stefoff

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64421-010-9
Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Idealists seeking a more racially just America met the deep-seated racism of Mississippi during Freedom Summer.

In 1964, hundreds of mostly college-aged students, many of them White, were drawn to work alongside local African Americans seeking voting rights and better education for their children. Based on Watson’s adult title Freedom Summer (2010) and adapted by Stefoff, this is a searing account of the difficulties of affecting change in a state that persistently held onto racial inequality and division. The volunteers who would register voters and operate Freedom Schools were carefully trained and organized, and an additional goal was challenging Mississippi’s Democratic Party leaders to seek political involvement that reflected the state’s population. Resistance was often violent, as shown by as the murders of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman. This is also the story of civil rights activists—including Bob Moses, Stokely Carmichael, and Fannie Lou Hamer—who worked tirelessly, often at great personal risk. The compelling narrative highlights national leaders, such as President Lyndon Johnson and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who pushed legislation but balked at providing protection to citizens in hostile situations. Moving personal stories of volunteers who wanted to make a difference and found themselves changed forever round out this narrative that provides a valuable level of intimacy for readers.

An in-depth look that contributes to understanding a violent painful chapter in recent history.

(source notes, further reading, image credits) (Nonfiction. 12-18)