FREEDOM SUMMER by Doug McAdam

FREEDOM SUMMER

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A survey of many of the participants in the famous Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 that claimed the lives of civil-rights activists Goodman, Scwerner, and Chaney; by McAdam (Sociology/Univ. of Arizona), author of Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970 (1985). Freedom Summer was a sort of high-water mark of 60's liberalism, but, as McAdam suggests, many of the lessons the volunteers learned fed the more radical elements of the later 60's: ""Freedom Summer marked a critical turning point both in the lives of those who participated in the campaign and the New Left as a whole. . .The events of the summer effectively resocialized and radicalized the volunteers. . .and laid the groundwork for a nationwide activist network out of which the other major movements of the era--women's, antiwar, student--were to emerge."" McAdam ends up making of this volume a sociological survey, having been able to reach and question over a third of the thousand or so original volunteers. What he discovered was that, overwhelmingly, the participants were the children of privilege, coming out of the half-dozen or so elite universities; that they reflected typical male chauvinist opinions of the day in their expectations of women's contributions to the project and project leaders' proscriptions of white female relationships with local blacks; that far from using the project as a means of rebellion against their parents, most volunteers were actually Putting into action values that they had learned at home. In addition, McAdam discovers that, despite the appearance of accommodation with 1980's yuppie life-styles, many of the volunteers still hold true to their old political beliefs and may yet pass the torch on to a new leftist movement. In its generalization of the movement, McAdam's work is much more illuminating than Cagin and Drag's We Are Not Afraid (p. 422), while its staunch support of the methods and politics of those times provides a leftist antidote to Bunzel's Political Passages (p. 506).

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0195064720
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press