In time for the 50th anniversary of the pivotal civil rights event, Rubin presents heroes, villains and everyday people in 1964 Mississippi.
Freedom schools, voter-registration drives and murders drew national attention to Mississippi during the Freedom Summer, and actions there affected the civil rights movement elsewhere, all culminating in the Voting Rights Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. The number of eligible black voters rose from 6.4 percent prior to Freedom Summer to 60 percent by the end of 1966. Two threads weave through Rubin’s narrative—a detailed story of the murders of civil rights workers Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman and a less focused, anecdotal picture of freedom schools and voter registration, drawing on extensive personal interviews. Though archival material and many photographs are included, too many pages of dense text are unrelieved by visuals. The extensive research is well-documented, and young readers may find much of interest in the websites recommended. Overall, the account is accessible and passionate, taking the events of that violent summer into the present, when, in 2005, 80-year-old, wheelchair-bound Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of the murders of Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman and sentenced to three 20-year jail terms.
A fascinating treatment of a key civil rights moment. (Nonfiction. 10-14)