392 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 14 halftones, 6 tables, 2 maps
John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture
The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta after World War II
2012 Berkshire Conference Best First Book Prize
2013 Lillian Smith Book Award
Weaving national narratives from stories of the daily lives and familiar places of local residents, Françoise Hamlin chronicles the slow struggle for black freedom through the history of Clarksdale, Mississippi. Hamlin paints a full picture of the town over fifty years, recognizing the accomplishments of its diverse African American community and strong NAACP branch, and examining the extreme brutality of entrenched power there. The Clarksdale story defies triumphant narratives of dramatic change, and presents instead a layered, contentious, untidy, and often disappointingly unresolved civil rights movement.
Following the black freedom struggle in Clarksdale from World War II through the first decade of the twenty-first century allows Hamlin to tell multiple, interwoven stories about the town's people, their choices, and the extent of political change. She shows how members of civil rights organizations--especially local leaders Vera Pigee and Aaron Henry--worked to challenge Jim Crow through fights against inequality, police brutality, segregation, and, later, economic injustice. With Clarksdale still at a crossroads today, Hamlin explores how to evaluate success when poverty and inequality persist.
"Exhaustively researched, this book richly details the black struggle for freedom in the Mississippi Delta. . . . Recommended. All academic levels/libraries."
"A beautifully written book, strong in its ability to capture the different organizing strategies pursued in one community. . . . A major contribution to civil rights historiography."
--Journal of American History
"An impressive, well-written account of the black freedom struggle in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Françoise Hamlin's oral history interviews are terrific, her analysis is thorough, and the story she tells is dramatic."
--John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
"A sweeping, moving, and pathbreaking history of a half century of civil rights activism in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Françoise Hamlin gracefully runs an integrated gender, class, generational, and race analysis throughout the book to permanently shift and transform our understanding of the black freedom struggle. Crossroads at Clarksdale jumps off the page."
--Annelise Orleck, Dartmouth College
"Truly valuable work. This book is as important a contribution to understanding Mississippi’s freedom struggle and to bringing attention to many aspects of the movement as any I know."
--Charles E. Cobb Jr., originator of the Freedom Schools as a SNCC field secretary, founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists and author of On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail
© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press
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