Crystal R. Sanders: The 1966 Preschool March on Washington

Fifty years ago today, 48 preschoolers from Mississippi and their chaperones took over the ornate United States House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee hearing room in Washington, D.C. The youngsters came to Capitol Hill seeking refunding of the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM) Head Start program. Head Start began in 1965 as a War on Poverty initiative that provided low-income children and their families with early childhood education, nutritious meals, healthcare, and social services. CDGM stood out because it was one of the largest inaugural Head Start programs nationwide and because it was so closely aligned with Mississippi’s civil rights movement. Many of the Magnolia State’s black citizens who had lost their jobs because of their proximity to the movement, including Pap Hamer (husband of Fannie Lou Hamer) and Roxie Meredith (mother of James Meredith), secured CDGM employment. These well-paying jobs outside of the local white power structure disrupted the state’s racial and political status quo and provoked the ire of segregationists including United States Senator John C. Stennis (D-MS).

Excerpt: Crossroads at Clarksdale, by Francoise N. Hamlin

As a Delta town, Clarksdale typified many movement sites, yet for many reasons it is unique. Clarksdale’s movement was more homespun than in other Delta towns—the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had its strongest branch there, founded in the early 1950s by local people.

Excerpt: William Alexander Percy, by Benjamin E. Wise

Percy benefited from his position atop the racial and class hierarchies in the South, and he did much to perpetuate them.

Excerpt: “American Congo” by Nan Elizabeth Woodruff

In this excerpt from ‘American Congo: The African American Freedom Struggle in the Delta,’ Nan Elizabeth Woodruff examines what led up to the massacre of black sharecroppers in 1919 Phillips County, Arkansas, and how the official narrative of events was fabricated and disseminated by white leaders.

Civil Rights Memory: Haley Barbour and the New ‘Lost Cause’

Just before our holiday hiatus we were following the story of Mississippi governor Haley Barbour’s comments to the Weekly Standard about how smoothly the desegregation of schools went in his hometown of Yazoo City. It was his defense of the role of the white Citizens’ Councils (which he later recanted) that prompted a lot of …

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Give My Poor Heart Ease now available as enhanced E-book!

Here’s something that would give anyone’s poor heart ease: William Ferris’ Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues is available through Amazon in an enhanced Kindle Edition at a great price. This enhanced edition is an ideal way to enjoy a work that draws heavily from archival video and audio recordings. Listen, …

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Confederate History Month and the Politics of Memory

We welcome a guest post today from Anne E. Marshall, author of Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State, which we’ll publish in December 2010. The book traces the development of a Confederate identity in Kentucky between 1865 and 1925 that belied the fact that Kentucky never …

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Give My Poor Heart Ease

Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues, by Bill Ferris, was published earlier this month, and we could not be happier with the attention it has garnered the few short weeks it has been on the shelves! The book is more than just pages of words connected at the spine, it is …

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Web 2.0, Text Wars, and Building the Better Book: How the Internet Changes Everything We Do

Today, The New York Times ran Jones County, Miss. – Civil War Fires Up Literary Shootout, a report by Michael Cieply about two conflicting books and a yet-to-be greenlighted Hollywood movie. At the center of everything lies Newton Knight, a white, landowning, Confederate deserter living deep in Mississippi, who famously tried to secede and form …

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