Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Ed Kings Mississippi: Behind the Scenes of Freedom Summer

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Ed Kings Mississippi: Behind the Scenes of Freedom Summer

Article excerpt

Ed Kings Mississippi: Behind the Scenes of Freedom Summer. By Rev. Ed King and Trent Watts. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2014. Pp. x, 150. $40.00, ISBN 978-1-62846-115-2.)

Ed King's Mississippi: Behind the Scenes of Freedom Summer is a unique photographic documentary chronicling Freedom Summer through the camera of Rev. Ed King, a white Mississippi minister and activist. Historian Trent Watts, a native white Mississippian himself, provides helpful historical context, including information about King's leadership in the Freedom Vote and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

At the heart of the book, and its contribution to the field, are forty-two of King's personal photographs and the accompanying narratives, which allow readers to see Freedom Summer as he saw it. What unfolds is a fascinating mixture of images and text ruminating on youth activism, grassroots organizing, interracial cooperation, violence, and sacrifice. The book recounts the amazing bravery of activists who were "willing to suffer, to risk death," for their cause (p. 131). King was at great personal risk. He was under constant police surveillance, and his name appeared with other activists on Ku Klux Klan target lists.

King honestly discusses the Mississippi movement, admitting that there were tensions between different civil rights groups, a lack of involvement by most black churches, and divisions within the black community. He insists that Martin Luther King Jr.'s work in Mississippi should get more credit, which runs counter to historiographical shifts away from a MLK-centric narrative. Pictures of MLK dominate the book, but readers will also see John Lewis, Andrew Young, C. T. …

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