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Author Payne, Charles M., author

Title I've got the light of freedom : the organizing tradition and the Mississippi freedom struggle / Charles M. Payne
Published Berkeley : University of California Press, [1995]
Online access available from:
ACLS Humanities E-Book    View Resource Record  


Description 1 online resource (xiv, 525 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates) : illustrations, map
Series Black thought and culture
Contents Setting the stage -- Testing the limits: Black activism in postwar Mississippi -- Give light and the people will find a way: the roots of an organizing tradition -- Moving on Mississippi -- Greenwood: building on the past -- If you don't go, don't hinder me: the redefinition of leadership -- They kept the story before me: families and traditions -- Slow and respectful work: organizers and organizing -- A woman's war -- Transitions -- Carrying on: the politics of empowerment -- From SNCC to slick: the demoralization of the movement -- Mrs. Hamer is no longer relevant: the loss of the organizing tradition -- The rough draft of history -- Bibliographic essay: the social construction of history
Summary This momentous work offers a groundbreaking history of the early civil rights movement in the South. Using wide-ranging archival work and extensive interviews with movement participants, Charles Payne uncovers a chapter of American social history forged locally, in places like Greenwood, Mississippi, where countless unsung African Americans risked their lives for the freedom struggle. The leaders were ordinary women and men--sharecroppers, domestics, high school students, beauticians, independent farmers--committed to organizing the civil rights struggle house by house, block by block, relationship by relationship. Payne brilliantly brings to life the tradition of grassroots African American activism, long practiced yet poorly understood. Payne overturns familiar ideas about community activism in the 1960s. The young organizers who were the engines of change in the state were not following any charismatic national leader. Far from being a complete break with the past, their work was based directly on the work of an older generation of activists, people like Ella Baker, Septima Clark, Amzie Moore, Medgar Evers, Aaron Henry. These leaders set the standards of courage against which young organizers judged themselves they served as models of activism that balanced humanism with militance. While historians have commonly portrayed the movement leadership as male, ministerial, and well-educated, Payne finds that organizers in Mississippi and elsewhere in the most dangerous parts of the South looked for leadership to working-class rural Blacks, and especially to women. Payne also finds that Black churches, typically portrayed as frontrunners in the civil rights struggle, were in fact late supporters of the movement
Notes "A Centennial book"--Half title page
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 443-487) and index
Notes Lillian Smith Book Award, 1995
Print version record
Subject African Americans -- Civil rights -- Mississippi.
Civil rights movements -- Mississippi -- History -- 20th century.
Civil rights movements -- Mississippi -- Greenwood -- History -- 20th century.
Civil rights workers -- Mississippi -- History -- 20th century.
Greenwood (Miss.) -- Race relations.
Mississippi -- Race relations.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 0520085159 (alk. paper)
0585122059 (electronic bk.)
9780520085152 (alk. paper)
9780585122052 (electronic bk.)
(alk. paper)
Other Titles I have got the light of freedom