Ray's Reviews > Freedom Summer

Freedom Summer by Doug McAdam
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's review
Jun 16, 2012

it was amazing

"Freedom Summer", by Doug McAdam, is a moving, emotional, thought-provoking book describing the attempt of over 1000 volunteers to travel to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to help improve the suppression and voting rights abuses of poor rural blacks.

Historical in fact, but never dry, it's the story of many of the young people, most white college students from the north, taking their idealism south with them to bring freedom and justice to sharecroppers and the forgotten and forlorn members of that society. And it's a story of hatred and violence and prejudice, and overcoming adversity as well. Since it's a story from fifty years ago, only Social-Security eligible citizens may remember much about this time. For others, it may be a new or an untold story about American society and the ending of 'Jim Crow'.

My knowledge of the story is based mostly on a Gene Hackman movie titled "Mississippi Burning" from the late 1980's. The movie is centered on the disappearance (murder) of three of these young civil rights workers. While included in the book, the story is much more encompassing than this tragic crime. The description of black life, the KKK, the reforms of the Civil Rights legislation under President Johnson, and the reforms of society are an important lesson of history for us all, and provide a good background in understanding political and societal issues which to some extent, remain to this day. Taunts of "communist influences" by "outsiders" and arguments of "States rights vs. Federal Government intrusion" and "the desire to maintain our Christian values" are voiced in policy debates to this day, but have parallels and legacy originating from this period and as told in in McAdam's story. It's also a story of inspiration and hope and overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges, and how a few strong individuals, willing to make sacrifices, can bring about big changes.

As the book jacket states, "It is must reading for anyone seeking to understand the legacy of the '60s".

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