SILVER RIGHTS: A True Story from the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Struggle by Constance Curry

SILVER RIGHTS: A True Story from the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Struggle

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A moving story of a poor family's unforeseen contribution to the civil-rights struggle in America. News of the 1954 Brown decision ending segregated public schooling took its time reaching the Mississippi Delta, a backward area that a 19th-century traveler described as a ""lush, seething hell."" In the fall of 1965, Mae Bertha Carter enrolled seven of her eight children in the hitherto all-white Drew, Miss., school system. As Carter tells legal scholar and debut author Curry, she was inspired by John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and the recently assassinated Medgar Evers. She expected to take heat for her action--after all, she had not long before remarked to neighbors regarding civil-rights movement actions like the famous Greensboro, N.C., diner sit-in, ""Ain't none of that ever gonna happen in Mississippi or get to us out here on these plantations."" She did not, however, expect the storm of controversy that descended on Drew in a swirl of freedom riders, Klansmen, attorneys, and reporters. That storm eventually broke and faded, and the seven Carter children not only graduated from Drew High School but also went on to receive college degrees; by a nice historical irony, one daughter, Beverly, later served on the Drew School Board. Curry tells the Carters' modest story well, giving the reader a solid feel for the tenor of small-town Mississippi life in an era that now seems eons away--and for how difficult the Carters' persistence was each day for the children. (One of them recalls, ""Up until a few years ago, I was still having nightmares about being in Drew High School, and I would wake up sobbing."") A solid contribution to the literature of recent American political history.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 290pp
Publisher: Algonquin