Sunday, March 2, 2014

James Meredith, Civil Rights and the rise of Black Power

The recent debate and court challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 reminds us of what was the once and future fragility of registering black voters in the south. Back in 1966, a year after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, James Meredith, who became the first African American student at the University of Mississippi, set out on an almost solitary march from Memphis to Jackson Mississippi to register black voters.

At the end of that march, which started on June 5 1966, the civil rights movement would be forever transformed. The movement's twin goals of the dream of integration and of nonviolence, would be replaced by black power and impatience.

It's a story that's not as famous as the Selma to Montgomery march a year earlier, but its impact was everlasting and its tensions still relevant today. This is the story that Aram Goudsouzian tells in Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear.

My conversation with Aram Goudsouzian:

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