Woke Up This Morning with My Mind on Freedom
Woke up this morning with my mind stayed on freedom,
Walkin' and talkin' with my mind stayed on freedom,
Ain't no harm to keep your mind stayed on freedom,
Everybody's got his mind stayed on freedom.
—1960s freedom song1
THE MIDSUMMER EXCHANGE between John Patterson and Robert Kennedy drew surprisingly little reaction from the national press, suggesting that the two-month-old Freedom Rider crisis had lost much of its novelty. Despite the periodic arrests in Jackson and the fulminations coming out of Montgomery, the Freedom Rides were no longer front-page news outside of Mississippi and Alabama. For most Americans, the Rides had receded into the background of national life, taking their place alongside school desegregation suits and sit-ins as manifestations of a continuing struggle. With no easy resolution in sight, the controversy surrounding the Rides appeared to be a virtual stalemate. After interviewing representatives of both the Freedom Rider movement and the white supremacist resistance in mid-July, Associated Press staff writer Hugh Mulligan concluded that "oddly enough, in the absence of any racial progress either way both sides are claiming victory in Mississippi. Meanwhile, the buses continue to arrive, the patrol wagon still waits, and the rest of the South, and the country, watches to see how long either philosophy can hold out."
What Mulligan detected, more than anything else, was the willingness of both sides to prolong the struggle indefinitely, regardless of the consequences. "It is now plain to even the few so-called moderates in our midst," insisted White Citizens' Councils leader William Simmons, "that the integrationists will stop at nothing in their efforts to force the South to integrate.