Wed July 21, 2010
"The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On this edition of our show, we speak with the Massachusetts-based journalist and author Bruce Watson, whose latest book is called "Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy." This book profiles the summer of 1964 --- specifically, the beginning the Civil Rights movement in this country --- when hundreds of college students went down to Mississippi (from various points North) to register black voters, teach in Freedom Schools, and live in sharecroppers' shacks. Three of these students were murdered, several black churches were burned to the ground, and violence erupted all over the region --- and yet, as Watson tells us on today's program, the organizers and activists behind the "Freedom Summer" movement ultimately achieved tremendous (and lasting, and profound) success. As Dwight Garner has noted of this book in The New York Times: "Mr. Watson's book derives its power --- at its best, it is the literary equivalent of a hot light bulb dangling from a low ceiling --- from its narrow focus. Freedom Summer is about the more than 700 college students who, in the summer of 1964, under the supervision of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, risked their lives to travel to Mississippi to register black voters and open schools.... The story of these months has been told before, but rarely this viscerally."