03/28/2013 02:12 PM
BATON ROUGE – Former civil rights activist James P. Marshall’s “Student Activism and
Civil Rights in Mississippi,” now available from LSU Press, tells the complete story
of the quest for civil rights in Mississippi. In 1960, students supporting civil rights
moved into Mississippi and challenged the state’s repressive racial order by encouraging
African Americans to reassert the rights guaranteed under the 14th and 15th Amendments
to the United States Constitution. The ensuing social upheaval changed the state forever.
Using a voluminous array of sources as well as his own memories, Marshall weaves together
an astonishing account of student protestors and local activists who risked their
lives for equality, standing between southern resistance and federal inaction. Their
efforts, and the horrific violence inflicted on them, helped push many non-southerners
and the federal government into action, culminating in the passage of the 1964 Civil
Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act – measures that destroyed legalized segregation
Ultimately, Marshall contends, student activism in Mississippi helped forge a consensus
by reminding the American public of its forgotten promises and by educating the nation
to the fact that African Americans in the South deserved to live as free and equal
Marshall is an independent scholar and former non-resident fellow at the W. E. B.
Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2013