Hands on the Freedom Plow

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-07-30
  • Publisher: Univ of Illinois Pr

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In Hands on the Freedom Plow,fifty-two women--northern and southern, young and old, urban and rural, black, white, and Latina--share their courageous personal stories of working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. The testimonies gathered here present a sweeping personal history of SNCC: early sit-ins, voter registration campaigns, and freedom rides; the 1963 March on Washington, the Mississippi Freedom Summer, and the movements in Alabama and Maryland; and Black Power and antiwar activism. Since the women spent time in the Deep South, many also describe risking their lives through beatings and arrests and witnessing unspeakable violence. These intense stories depict women, many very young, dealing with extreme fear and finding the remarkable strength to survive. The women in SNCC acquired new skills, experienced personal growth, sustained one another, and even had fun in the midst of serious struggle. Readers are privy to their analyses of the Movement, its tactics, strategies, and underlying philosophies. The contributors revisit central debates of the struggle including the role of nonviolence and self-defense, the role of white people in a black-led movement, and the role of women within the Movement and the society at large. Each story reveals how the struggle for social change was formed, supported, and maintained by the women who kept their "hands on the freedom plow." As the editors write in the introduction, "Though the voices are different, they all tell the same story--of women bursting out of constraints, leaving school, leaving their hometowns, meeting new people, talking into the night, laughing, going to jail, being afraid, teaching in Freedom Schools, working in the field, dancing at the Elks Hall, working the WATS line to relay horror story after horror story, telling the press, telling the story, telling the word. And making a difference in this world."

Author Biography

Faith S. Holsaert, Durham, North Carolina, teacher and fiction writer, has remained active in lesbian and women's, antiwar, and justice struggles. Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, community organizer, activist, homemaker, and teacher of history including the Civil Rights Movement, lives near Baltimore. Filmmaker and Movement lecturer Judy Richardson's projects include the PBS documentary series Eyes on the Prize and other historical documentaries. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Betty Garman Robinson, a community organizer, lives in Baltimore and is active in the reemerging grassroots social justice movement. Jean Smith Young is a child psychiatrist who works with community mental health programs in the Washington, D.C., area. New York City consultant Dorothy M. Zellner wrote and edited for the Center for Constitutional Rights and CUNY Law School. All of the editors worked for SNCC.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Fighting for My Rights: One SNCC Woman's Experience, 1961-1964p. 7
From Little Memphis Girl to Mississippi Amazonp. 9
Entering Troubled Waters: Sit-ins, the Founding of SNCC, and the Freedom Rides, 1960-1963p. 33
What We Were Talking about Was Our Futurep. 39
An Official Observerp. 45
Onto Open Groundp. 49
Two Variations on Nonviolencep. 53
A Young Communist Joins SNCCp. 55
Watching, Waiting, and Resistingp. 61
Diary of a Freedom Riderp. 67
They Are the Ones Who Got Scaredp. 76
Movement Leaning Posts: The Heart and Soul of the Southwest Georgia Movement, 1961-1963p. 85
Ripe for the Pickingp. 91
Finding Form for the Expression of My Discontentp. 100
Uncovered and Without Shelter, I Joined This Movement for Freedomp. 119
We Turned This Upside-Down Country Right Side Upp. 128
Everybody Called Me "Teach"p. 140
I Love to Singp. 144
Since I Laid My Burden Downp. 146
We Just Kept Goingp. 152
Standing Tall: The Southwest Georgia Movement, 1962-1963p. 157
It Was Simply in My Bloodp. 163
Freedom-Faithp. 172
Resistance Up. 181
Caught in the Middlep. 195
Get on Board: The Mississippi Movement through the Atlantic City Challenge, 1961-1964p. 211
Standing Up for Our Beliefsp. 217
Inside and Outside of Two Worldsp. 223
They Didn't Know the Power of Womenp. 230
Do Whatever You Are Big Enough to Dop. 240
Depending on Ourselvesp. 250
A Grand Romantic Notionp. 257
If We Must Diep. 266
Cambridge, Maryland: The Movement under Attack, 1961-1964p. 271
The Energy of the People Passing through Mep. 273
A Sense of Family: The National SNCC Office, 1960-1964p. 299
Peek around the Mountainp. 303
My Real Vocationp. 311
A SNCC Blue Bookp. 326
Getting Out the Newsp. 332
It's Okay to Fight the Status Quop. 344
SNCC: My Enduring "Circle of Trust"p. 348
Working in the Eye of the Social Movement Stormp. 366
In the Attics of My Mindp. 381
Building a New Worldp. 388
Fighting Another Day: The Mississippi Movement after Atlantic City, 1964-1966p. 395
A Simple Questionp. 399
The Mississippi Cotton Votep. 403
The Freedom Struggle Was the Flamep. 409
An Interracial Alliance of the Poor: An Elusive Populist Fantasy?p. 417
We Weren't the Bad Guysp. 427
Sometimes in the Ground Troops, Sometimes in the Leadershipp. 436
The Constant Struggle: The Alabama Movement, 1963-1966p. 447
There Are No Cowards in My Familyp. 453
Singing for Freedomp. 460
Bloody Selmap. 470
Playtime Is Overp. 473
Captured by the Movementp. 483
We'll Never Turn Backp. 503
Letter to My Adolescent Sonp. 514
Black Power. Issues of Continuity, Change, and Personal Identity, 1964-1969p. 525
Neither Black nor White in a Black-White Worldp. 531
I Knew I Wasn't White, but in America What Was I?p. 540
Time to Get Readyp. 552
Born Freedom Fighterp. 572
Postscript: We Who Believe in Freedomp. 587
Indexp. 593
Illustrations follow pages 84, 156, and 270.
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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