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来自Freedom Summer的派遣

格林伍德的幽灵

记者前往密西西比州,遇到了家庭的回声和争取公民权利的斗争。

1947年,我的父亲,along with his mother and older brother, boarded a northbound train in Greenwood, MissThey carried with them nothing but a suitcase stuffed with clothes, a bag of cold chicken, and my grandmother’s determination that her children — my father was just 2 years old — would not be doomed to a life of picking cotton in the feudal society that was the Mississippi Delta.

Grandmama, as we called her, settled in Waterloo, Iowa, a stop on the Illinois Central line, and a place where thousands of black Mississippians would find work on the railroad or at theRath meatpackingJohn Deere植物Grandmama took a job familiar to black women of her lot: Working for white families as a domestic.

Almost every black person I knew growing up in Waterloo had roots in MississippiMississippi flavored our cuisine, inspired our worship and colored our languageStill, when speaking about the land of their birth, my dad and grandmother talked about family and loved ones, but seldom about the place.


密西西比岛立即出现了我祖先的土地,以及任何一部好莱坞电影中的险恶场景,我们国家叙事中的一个反派,一个名叫黑人男孩的地方Emmett Till was tossed into the Tallahatchie Riverwith a cotton gin fan around his neckThe only image of Greenwood I got from my family was of my great-grandparents’ farm, scenes of chickens and picking peas in the morning sun and my great-grandmother, Mary Jane Paul, refusing to take any messIt was only when I got older that I learned my family did not in fact own the farmDepending on who told the story, my family either leased or sharecropped the land that was, in fact, held by white plantation ownersIn reality, the difference mattered little.

And though my parents would load us all in the car every summer to head to a different state for our family vacations, my dad never once took us to the state of his birthNot for family reunions or funerals不适用于毕业或假期My father and grandmother both passed away without ever taking me to see their home.

位于密西西比州格林伍德的主街和卡罗尔顿大道交叉口的空置地段。 (埃德蒙德喷泉,特别为manbetx球迷互动)

As the nation prepared to mark the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer — that violent and heady 10 weeks during which Northern volunteers joined forces with Southern activists in Mississippi, all working to meaningfully enfranchise black residents — I felt pulled to finally visit this place that ran in my blood but that I had never seenLast month, at the age of 38, I visited Mississippi for the first time.

My 87-year-old great-aunt, Charlotte Frost, who had followed my grandma to Waterloo, happened to be visiting a granddaughter in Jackson at the same time I planned my trip我找到了夏洛特姨妈,我们向北走向美国Highway 49 toward Greenwood, into the heart of the Delta and Freedom Summer’s ground zero.

The Mississippi Delta, named after the river that gives it life,stretches 200 miles long and 60 miles wide, covering 19 counties in the Magnolia StateThe ebb and flow of the mighty river left behind some of the richest soil on the face of the earth (topsoil here can reach more than 60 feet deep)This dark, fertile land, and the riches it could produce for the white people who owned almost all of it, would also make Mississippi one of the most dangerous places in the country to be black.

As we drove, I tried to get my Aunt Charlotte to open up about what it was like coming of age in a black family in the DeltaIt was here, after all, that life for black people was so grim that it spawned the blues.

But Aunt Charlotte, peering out at the road through round glasses perpetually clinging to the end of her nose, said she never had any problems with white people, that they had respected her family and hadn’t done much to bother themAnd then Charlotte went on to talk about the good school she went to in town and all the crops her family grew.

这是一个熟悉的看法She and another great-aunt in Waterloo are the last of my Grandmama’s siblings, and I had tried before to get their stories, but had been met with a resistance to talking about the ugliness of Jim Crow MississippiI never push too hard at this gauzy version, because I know that women like my great-aunts — they pride themselves in their durable dignity, dress to nines, don’t use vulgar language and keep impeccable homes with plastic-wrapped sofas — have no desire to speak of the daily degradations they’d faced at the height of Jim Crow.

A wooden sign coated in brown paint announced our arrival:Welcome to Greenwood, Cotton Capital of the World

But it was clear from the rows of lanky corn stretched out before the sign — not exactly squat June cotton — that the greeting’s boast was mere nostalgia.

一块麦地和农业机械在Greenwood,密西西比外面,2014年6月19日。 (埃德蒙德喷泉,特别为manbetx球迷互动)

We first headed to the Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church just outside of townThe plain, white structure was where our family worshippedMy great-grandmother and great-grandfather, Mary Jane and Percy Paul, part of the first generation born out of slavery, are buried in the overgrown cemetery, with its haphazardly placed tombstonesIt turns out that this church is the one featured in the movie “The Help,” the place where the maids went to worshipI would come to learn that though the movie is set in Jackson, it was主要是在格林伍德拍摄的因为小镇似乎在很大程度上被冻结了Its building and homes, and in some ways its culture, form a kind of time capsule of the era when cotton was king.

According to Aunt Charlotte, the church used to be a part of theWhittington Plantation, the white landowners having built it for the black sharecroppersIt’s still surrounded by crops, and Aunt Charlotte, stooped over her cane, pointed to a distant spot in the fields, saying their house, the house where my great-grandmother helped deliver my father, once stood there on the Whittington landsI soon learned that nearly every black person here came from a family attached through labor (and sometimes blood) to white families and to plantations with names like “Star of the West.”

It was dusk and the Delta heat settled about my shoulders like a wool blanketHeavy and uncomfortable, it made my notebook paper fall limp and my ink stop flowingGnats and mosquitoes swarmed my legsAunt Charlotte, wrapped in a memory, paused to listen to an owl hooting a melancholy warning.

“The old people would say someone is going to die,” she said.

大包棉花在密西西比三角洲博物馆展出图中还有:在小姐格林伍德外面的小锡安传教士浸信会教堂Nikole Hannah-Jones的家人崇拜的地方20世纪70年代,有人开火轰炸了教堂。 (埃德蒙喷泉,特别为manbetx球迷互动)

Located in Leflore County, my dad’s hometown took its name from Greenwood LeFlore, thelast Choctaw Indian chief, who signed over much of the tribe’s land foran Oklahoma reservationwhile he himself lived lavishly on 15,000 acres of Delta land that he worked with some400 enslaved black laborers.

The Civil War, of course, left much of the South crippled, but not long after Reconstruction, Greenwood boomedWhile white politicians in Jackson led the South in stripping black residents of their elected offices andnewly guaranteed citizenship rights,白种植园主rebuilt the levees on the flood-prone and swampy Delta. Cotton once again stretched as far as the eye could see, and Greenwood took its place as one of the cotton capitals of the world.

But this boom was made possible only by a reconstituted slavery, a system of coerced labor known as sharecroppingVagrancy laws were passed, making it illegal for black people to stand around “idle.” Often the only defense was to prove one was in the employ of a white person.

White Mississippians, outnumbered by the African-Americans needed to work the land, implemented a violent and absolute form of social controlThe nation’s most heavily black state, Mississippilynched more black people between1882 and 1968 than any state in the country.

Greenwood’s Yazoo River is formed by the meeting of theTallahatchieYalobusharivers, and as we crossed the Yazoo River and headed to the heart of Greenwood, the ghosts of Mississippi grew close, and Aunt Charlotte finally loosened.

Aunt Charlotte told me that she was baptized in the TallahatchieShe went on to speak of another river baptism, into the perils of the Delta’s color line.

She said her brother Milton — my dad’s namesake — and a cousin had once committed the sin of walking through a white neighborhood for a reason other than to simply go to work两个白人青少年在车里追逐,试图让他们失望Her brother and cousin were forced to jump into the murky river to escapeThey returned home, muddy and wet, chests heaving from panic and exertionHer mother, she said, was livid with fear.

“They got a hard scolding,” Aunt Charlotte said“她说,'你会让自己被杀。'”

米尔顿保罗是Nikole Hannah-Jones的父亲,也是她祖母的兄弟姐妹中唯一一个没有离开南方的兄弟。

我们开车过去了富豪白色法院, with its requisite Confederate monument standing guard out frontAunt Charlotte told of another brother running home, chest heaving. A cousin who leased farmland from a white plantation owner had the gall to stand up to a white overseer who didn’t like him having taken a restEveryone knew that simply asserting one’s manhood could get a man strung from a tree, so her brother raced to get my great-grandfather to help guard his cousin against the lynching mob.

“My daddy grabbed his Winchester and rifle and his .38 long-nose pistol,” Aunt Charlotte said, and he headed to the cousin’s house to keep vigilThis was a well-practiced event: Family members often gathered arms to protect a loved one following a social breach, usually keeping watch until the loved one could be whisked out of town, almost always to the North.

“They usually had to leave before nightfall or the lynching mob would come,” Aunt Charlotte said quietly. The lynching mob did not come that night, but Aunt Charlotte never forgot the fearThat fright was as routine among black people in the Delta as heading to church on Sunday.

It was just a few miles outside of town, after all, wherethey found the body of Emmett TillThe tossing of black bodies into the muddy rivers for breaching the social order wasn’t unusualThe only reason people across the nation knew Till’s name was that his mother insisted on an open casket and allowed the ghastly photos of his bloated and mutilated corpse to be published in thenation’s leading black publications

It was eerie being down here where it happened, just a few miles from where my dad grew up, and realizing how easily he could have been TillWe somehow convince ourselves that this is ancient historyBut I am not even 40, and my dad was but four years younger than Emmett Till就像我父亲一样,蒂尔的母亲也离开了数十万黑人密西西比人之一,他们在大迁徙期间逃离了他们的家园。

大约在1920年拍摄的照片,名为“棉花王和他的奴隶。”图片中有三名黑人男子和一名白人男孩,在Leflore County法院前面有一捆棉花。 (国会图书馆)

Mamie Till ended up in Chicago, and like my Grandmama, sent her son back down South during the summer monthsMy dad even shared Emmett Till’s light eyes, as well as that bravado that came from living in the North — that bravado that brought out the worst in white SouthernersOne of my Dad’s cousins told me that when he came back to Greenwood for the summers, my dad liked “progueing,” a local word for strutting around and being seenHe told me my great-grandparents kept Dad close.

Fear and economic exploitation were the twin elements that defined the DeltaBoth were made possible by the complete disenfranchisement of the majority black population. North Greenwood, with its wide, tree-lined avenues and “Gone with the Wind” mansions, once prompted the我们商会to name its main thoroughfare one of the nation’s most beautiful streetsDivided from the rest of the town by the Yazoo River, it showcased the vast material wealth under King CottonThe shotgun shacks in southeast Greenwood, with its unpaved roads and lightless blocks at the time, revealed who paid the price for that wealth.

“You had to sharecrop, you couldn’t sell your own cotton, you had to go to them,” the white people, “for everything,” theRev. Willie Blue, a Mississippi native who took part in Freedom Summer, told me“You didn’t make anything, you were always in the hole and at the end of the year there was never anything leftThey controlled your life这与奴隶一样。“

An entire family could work all year — children as young as 2 had to go to the fields — and walk away with $100Even though other Southern states embraced mechanization, Mississippi avoided itAs a local historian told me, it was cheaper to “pay” sharecroppers.

格林伍德的白人made up 33 percent of the population but owned 90 percent这片土地只是2 percent of eligible black voters were registered. Black residents held not a single elected officeIn 1964, 10 years after the Supreme Court’s Brown vBoard of Education decision, Mississippi was the only state in the country where not a single black child attended a school with a white child.

Still, black Mississippians weren’t just cowering in fear, awaiting saviors from the North.

位于密西西比州格林伍德的Leflore County法院大楼出现了许多选民登记战,包括由活动家Bob Moses领导的数百人的游行执法人员在游行者身上设置了狗。 (埃德蒙德喷泉,特别为manbetx球迷互动)

1954年a young man named Medgar Eversattempted, without success, to integrate the University of Mississippi Law SchoolThat same year, the NAACP named him Mississippi’s first field officer and he spent the next decade enduring death threats and violence as he tried to register black voters.

Black Mississippians attempted to desegregate schools and lunch counters, movie theaters and swimming poolsBut sit-ins to eat at an integrated restaurant were one thing. Pushing to access the vote in such a heavily black region was something else.

“If we get the right to vote, we become captains of our own ship,” Blue told me“I believed that then, I believe that now.” He added: “You are not a first-class citizen if you are not registered to vote这是美国人的支柱The vote is the perfect example of free speech.”

Hank Klibanoff, a journalist and co-author of the book “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation,” explained to me the promise and threat of black enfranchisementNot only did voter registration lead to political representation, Klibanoff said, but it also determined who sat on juries“You become instrumental in ensuring criminal justice is effective and fair,” Klibanoff saidAccess to the vote “really made it possible for blacks to finally get justice in the courts, not just criminal but civil as well.”

White Mississippians understood this as clearly as anyoneThe toll on black bodies during the effort to ensure voting rights is, for people of my generation, inconceivable. In the years leading up to Freedom Summer,black Mississippians agitating for civil rights were beaten by mobs, castrated, dragged behind cars with ropes, bombed, jailed, beaten with belts and whips by their jailers, shot at, and strung with 100 pounds of rocks and sunk to the bottom of the riverNone of this was done in secret: Among the murderers was a state legislator and a county sheriff.

“We have unintentionally reduced racial discrimination to images of white and colored water fountains. And in that context, what passes for violence is somebody pouring mustard on top of a civil rights demonstrator at a lunch counter, when in fact it was open season on blacks,” Klibanoff said“They could be killed just indiscriminately and with impunityAnd I don’t mean, now and then, but I mean fairly regularly.”

And this is where it’s easy to cast Mississippi as a grotesque outlier, and to feel a certain smugness about how, as the civil rights veterans put it at the time, Freedom Summer was about making Mississippi part of the rest of AmericaBut the rest of America — exemplified by the federal government — knew what was happening in Mississippi我们知道密西西比河was nearly half blackbut had no black representatives in Congress or anywhere, from state government on downWe knew black Mississippians were being denied their citizenship rights and being murdered for having the audacity to demand themDespite obvious voter intimidation and political assassinations,the FBI operated no field office thereWe knew, and we looked away.

Every day, ordinary Mississippians battled on.


启Blue joined the Mississippi civil rights movement in 1963Blue, who returned home to Tallahatchie County after a stint in the Navy, had been getting pressure from whites to find work on a plantation or to get out of townBlue instead headed to Greenwood, where he hooked up with Bob Moses.

Moses, a Harvard-educated New Yorker, had come to Mississippi in 1961 to work on voter registration for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, known as SNCCGreenwood was, according to SNCC documents, a “hard core resistance area.” Moses set up SNCC’s headquarters in Greenwood — those headquarters would be bombed, burned down and shot up — and Blue’s first task was to pick up Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, who were coming to Greenwood to offer their support.

Blue, still green as an activist, arrived at the airport only to encounter a cadre of armed Klan membersThe two-car delegation picked up their Hollywood guests, and Blue, who was driving the second car, soon found himself in a high-speed chase with the KlanThe Klan backed off once the party made it to the black part of GreenwoodLaughing ruefully today, Blue said he didn’t find out until later that Poitier and Belafonte had been carrying tens of thousands of dollars in cash to help the voting rights effort.

Outside of town, on a car-strewn lot tucked between cotton fields, I met with Silas McGhee, whose family, led by his mother, Laura, began fighting Jim Crow long before Freedom Summer他们付出了沉重的代价McGhee doesn’t much like to talk about those times我无法让他坐下来接受采访All he would say was that he was no hero, that he had just done what he was supposed to doMcGhee had been jailed and beaten more times than he could count for trying to desegregate downtown businesses and help register black voters.

But the sunken set of his jaw told the story he would notAt the height of the Mississippi civil rights struggle, a white man pulled up in a car and shot McGhee in his face when McGhee was sitting outside of a Greenwood restaurantThe bullet barreled through his mouth, taking his front teeth with itBlue, who was with McGhee at the time, told me, and McGhee confirmed, that the shooter was Byron De La Beckwith — the Klansman who killed Medgar EversI could find no record to prove or disprove it.

As I left McGhee working on a tractor in his yard, I thought of how all but one of Grandmama’s seven siblings who survived into adulthood left Mississippi in their youthThey sacrificed a great deal in seeking a better life for their familiesBut it was in talking to people like Blue and McGhee that I realized what an act of defiance it was to have been a black Mississippian and to have simply stayed putStaying to change this state might well have been the greatest sacrifice.

So, no, black Mississippians hadn’t been waiting for saviors — white or otherwise — from outsideBut they certainly welcomed them for the national attention they would bring.

Moses — who civil rights veterans say was blessed with the right name — is largely considered the mastermind behind Freedom SummerWhen I spoke with him over the phone, he brushed off the credit.

Moses had been tested in Mississippi’s fireHe’d been beaten in the back of the head with the butt of a knife by the cousin of a local sheriff, he’d been shot at, he’d been jailed and beaten some moreSpeaking to me from Jackson, where he’d traveled for a Freedom Summer commemoration, Moses called what they were doing back in the 1960s “guerrilla warfare.” They were sniping at the system while being housed and protected by the local community.

“It was the only time in my life where I could any time of night go and knock on a door, and they were going to provide a bed for me to sleep in, food to eat and watch my back,” he said of the network of local black Mississippians who sheltered civil rights workers“You had in that community people who were willing to take a stand even though they knew what they were doing would enrage white folks.”

In 1963, Medgar Evers joined the long list of racial assassination victimsDe La Beckwith followed Evers home and shot Evers through the heart with a rifle.Evers was carrying a box of T-shirts proclaiming “Jim Crow Must Go.”密西西比州州长Ross Barnett在审判期间访问了De La BeckwithTwo all-white juries deadlocked and Evers’s killer would live free and in the openuntil 1994, when he was finally brought to justice

Moses said the killing of Evers was the turning point.

Two years of voter efforts in Greenwood had led to fewer than 30 black registrations but plenty of shootings, beatings, bombings and arrests.鲍勃摩西写的1963年备忘录说

我们学到了以下内容:

1It is not possible to for us to register Negroes in Mississippi …

2All direct action campaigns for integration have had their backs broken …

He went on: “The Mississippi monolith has successfully survived the Freedom Rides, James Meredith at Ole Miss, and the assassination of Medgar Evers, without substantive change… The only attack worth making is an attack aimed at the overthrow of the existing political structure of the state.”

It was time to up the ante. Reporters for the mainstream press had largely bought white Mississippians’ protestations that black Mississippians just didn’t care to voteThe idea was somehow to provoke the federal government to act.

So the notion was hatched to recruit college students from across the country who would converge on the state for 10 weeks, setting up Freedom Schools and registering black voters. The goal: To register enough disenfranchised black voters to challenge the all-white Democratic delegation at the national convention in Atlantic City, N.J., and instead seat the biracialMississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

To work, the organizers calculated, a significant number of the student volunteers needed to be white.

“We know what they bring with them are the eyes of the country,” Moses told me“The country is able to see through their eyes what they weren’t able to see through ours.”

We both grew silent on the line, for just a moment, letting those words sink in.


Of course, most everyone knows what happened nextAs Freedom Summer began, three civil rights workers —Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, two white Northerners; and James Earl Chaney, a black Mississippian— disappeared in Mississippi黑人密西西比人立刻明白了这意味着什么。

“There is no kidnapping in Mississippi,” Rev蓝提醒了我“我们知道他们已经死了。”

But the murders of those two white men changed everything“These were not just white folks,” they were “America’s finest, America’s futures,” Rev蓝说“Goodman’s richer than whipped creamHe wasn’t supposed to die in Vietnam, he sure wasn’t supposed to die in MississippiWhen America’s brightest are murdered for doing something fundamentally American, suddenly, the world knows about MississippiIt was another nail in the segregated coffin.”

The federal government swarmed Mississippi该FBI opened an office there for the first time in two decades.The nation’s eyes wound up riveted on a place that many felt had existed outside the laws of the landAnd as law enforcement dragged rivers searching for the missing civil rights workers, they found at least nine bodies of black men who’d disappeared well beforeThe beatings, bombings and jailings of Freedom Summer volunteers and local Mississippians determined to exercise democracy continued all summer.

密西西比州自由民主党黑人和白人支持者在1964年新泽西州大西洋城民主党全国代表大会的木板路上游行自由夏季参与者曾希望通过提出成千上万想要投票但不能投票的黑人密西西比人的签名来取代密西西比州的全白代表团。 (国会图书馆)

In the end, despite all the attention to the three slain civil rights workers, and the gathering of tens of thousands of signatures of black Mississippians who wanted to vote but couldn’t, the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party did not unseat Mississippi’s all-white delegationTheir efforts were squashed by the very man who would pass the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, President Lyndon Baines JohnsonFreedom Summer volunteers and organizers left Atlantic City dejected.

So, what then, was Freedom Summer’s legacy — not just in some grand national narrative, but right here in the Delta, as well?


I picked my Aunt Charlotte up from the Hampton Inn on the edge of town and we headed to Mississippi Avenue, where my cousin Lawrence Paul livesI’d never met Lawrence, but when I had called a few days earlier and introduced myself as a relative from up North and told him of my visit, he’d asked, “Whose daughter are you again?” When I told him Milton, he let out a hearty laugh.

Milton Hannah,Nikole Hannah-Jones的父亲,在美国陆军工程训练中心单元书这张照片拍摄于1963年,当时汉娜才18岁。

“Ol’ cat-eyed Milton?” he asked“我们过去很亲密当你到这儿来打电话给我。“

Lawrence lives in a neighborhood of stately brick homes and bungalows格林伍德是marked by severe residential segregationand Lawrence explained that the neighborhood used to be all whiteBut once the first black people moved in, every last one of the white residents moved outNow it is home to Greenwood’s small black middle class, a collection of civil servants, educators and entrepreneurs.

Lawrence is the grandson of my Grandmama’s brother, the only sibling who hadn’t gone NorthLawrence was 14 when Freedom Summer happenedSitting in front of the air conditioner and sweating under a blue baseball cap, he smiled at the memory.

“To me, I am not going to use the word revolutionary — but it felt good knowing we were part of something,” Lawrence said“成为一名年轻人是一件很痛苦的事情Seeing the way the police did our parents, it was brutalityYou had a law for white and a law for blackYou see an all-white government, all-white police force, all-white everything.”

A boarded-up shotgun home in the Baptist Town neighborhood in Greenwood, Mississippi这些房屋的建造是为了容纳佃农,反映了许多格林伍德黑人居民的艰难时期穿过河的北边,财富的证据变得明显。 (埃德蒙德喷泉,特别为manbetx球迷互动)

Lawrence repeated the stories of daily fear, of not stepping off a sidewalk fast enough, or appearing too smart or too proud, and the instant wrath it could bringAs a young boy, he said, he’d learned to differentiate a police car without even having to turn aroundJust the sound it made gave it away.

“I can still hear it,” he said“They’d pull alongside us and we’d say, ‘Yes, sir, yes sir.’ We’d fake it.”

假的,我问道。

“尊重”。

Aunt Charlotte, who’d been sitting in the chair listening, spoke up“My dad would always say, ‘I’m a man. How old do I have to be to be a man?’”

Outside of the watchful eyes of his parents, Lawrence went to organizing meetings held at the Elks Lodge; he marched to the courthouse and picketed for voting rights that he was too young to exercise“Our people were too afraid to march, so we did it for them,” he said proudly.

Lawrence didn’t mind at all the white Northerners who had often been portrayed in news media as the face of the movement that summer.

“White people were the key to it,” he said“他们是变革的主要部分。”

It reminded me of something Rev蓝说过:“这场运动属于我们所有人。”


At the end of Freedom Summer, most of the volunteers leftAnd they took with them the nation’s attentionLife remained hard for those left behindChurches and homes continued to be bombed尽管一年后通过了the Voting Rights Act,white Mississippians continued to violently fight efforts to register black voters and gain black political power.

In fact, two years after Freedom Summer, in 1966, James Meredith, the man who integrated Ole Miss, was shot in Mississippi as he tried to complete a “March Against Fear.” Stokely Carmichael, a SNCC veteran, tried to complete Meredith’s march but wound up jailed in Greenwood, marking his 27arrest in the fight for civil rightsThe lack of progress had taken a physical and emotional toll on Carmichael and others who’d spent years in the trenches.It was in Greenwood that a fiery Carmichael gave his first “Black Power” speech, fracturing the movement into those who wanted to continue with a nonviolent agenda, and those who decided that if someone hit at them, they were going to hit back.

Despite the passion of Freedom Summer, Lawrence explained, it seemed that little had changed when it was over“After Freedom Summer, for me, it was still the same,” he said, wiping at his brow with a white washrag“这是迫使他们的事情It didn’t happen fast.”

Changes did come, of course, but achingly slowlyShortly after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, David Jordan, the son of a sharecropper on the same Whittington Plantation where my family worked, who’d earned degrees fromMississippi Valley State and the University of Wyomingand become a science teacher, established the Greenwood Voters League to register black voters and help them wield the political power their numbers should have broughtBut by 1977, a full decade after Freedom Summer,Greenwood’s governance remained lily whiteThat year, Jordan sued the city under the Voting Rights Act and won the suit eight years laterWhile the lawsuit against Greenwood worked its way through the courts, Jordan sued again,这一次改变了国家吸引立法区的方式, which had continued to ensure the election of white candidatesJordan won there as well, leading to the 1984 election of Mississippi’s first black congressman since Reconstruction.

“Our people were still suffering and we wanted a piece of the pie,” Jordan said“The only way to get it was to fight.”

The following year, in 1985, Jordan ran for the newly formed City Council and became Greenwood’s first black city councilman.

For his efforts, Jordan’s had his life threatened, his property vandalized and, in 2011, his house shot今天,格林伍德市议会的黑人占多数It has a black fire chief它有一个black mayor and chief of policeJordan himself holds two elected positions; he’s a city councilman and a state senatorSitting in the City Council chambers, he noted that Mississippi can now boast the most black elected officials of any state in the UnionThrough the window at his back, the stars and bars of the Confederacy, enshrined on the Mississippi state flag, fluttered in the wind.

“Freedom Summer baptized Mississippi as part of the nation,” Moses said“It was no longer a rule unto itself.”

密西西比州参议员大卫·乔丹在2014年6月18日在格林伍德市政厅拍摄。 (Edmund Fountain / manbetx球迷互动)

Still, the limitations of Freedom Summer and the Mississippi civil rights movement stand in stark relief. Mississippi remains thenation’s most heavily black stateand also its poorest.Political power has not brought economic power.

Greenwood, the town that bet everything on King Cotton, has suffered from cotton’s demiseBut the suffering has not been borne evenlyEntire sections of the once-thriving city center are pocked with vacant storefronts and empty streetsAnd yet a few blocks over, a bustling collection of shops cater to the tourists and other well-off vacationers and locals drawn to the luxury Alluvian hotel and spa.

In the past, seeking to hoard all the cheap black labor for their cotton fields, the city’s white elite fought to keep other industries awayToday, then, the town struggles to draw any industry whatsoever.

Meanwhile, cotton fields have been converted to much less labor-intensive corn and soybean cropsThose crops have kept many white families well off, comfortable in their sprawling mansions.North Greenwood, where nearly all the city’s white residents live,几乎没有贫穷可言。

But today, well over a third of Greenwood’s black residents live below the poverty lineThe lack of industry and loss of agricultural work have left many simply jobless. Across the tracks, the historic all-black Baptist Town is a collection of dilapidated shotgun homesThose battered and leaning homes, first constructed to house sharecroppers, cannot possibly look any better now than they did during Jim CrowIn significant parts of this community, the median family income falls below $10,000 a yearIts residents are so generationally impoverished that thecommunity is anxiously awaiting two dozen tiny cottages从卡特里娜飓风遗留下来。

Both Moses and Blue said that while a small number of black Mississippians have been able to gain wealth and power, distressingly high numbers still remain mired in grinding poverty. “Those that gained the most from the movement don’t want to trouble the water,” Blue told me“They are doing so good while most of us are doing so much worse. Integration comes with financeI can’t go to the country club — not because I am black, but because I don’t have moneyI think that’s the failure. The lack of financial power.”

Many who risked their lives for the struggle faced retribution once the cameras went away and the volunteers went homeThey talked of being blackballed from jobs, loans, opportunity他们中的许多人靠社会保障生活并且勉强度过难关。

The younger generation, those for whom Freedom Summer is their inheritance, are in obvious ways better off than those before them但他们仍然可以感到被困I met 23-year-old Evonna Lucas at the city’s convention and visitors bureauAn outspoken bookworm fascinated by history, she reminded me of myself when I was her age.

Evonna remembers clearly when she first confronted Greenwood’s invisible color lineShe was in fourth grade and her mother had sent her tothe only Greenwood public school that is majority white. Her best friend was a little white girl named Sarah, and Sarah was having a birthday party“我们非常兴奋Then she came one day and said, ‘My momma said I can’t invite black kids to my birthday,’” Evonna told me“I still remember her head hanging downShe was in fourth grade and couldn’t look me in the eye就在那时我意识到自己与众不同。“

Evonna Lucas代表她在格林伍德南部的家外画像卢卡斯去年毕业于密西西比河谷州立大学,但她说,在家乡很难找到受过良好教育的年轻人的高薪工作。 (Edmund Fountain / manbetx球迷互动)

I grew up in Iowa, yet have a story like that of my ownThe only difference is I was welcomed at my white friends’ homes; it’s just that their parents didn’t want them coming to mineI guess Moses was right when he told me that the success of Freedom Summer was it “made Mississippi, for better or for worse, the same as the rest of the country.”

Evonna毕业了historically black Mississippi Valley State Universitylast year with a degree in communicationsShe returned home, and finding she couldn’t get a job in her field, took what she could get, making minimum wage before landing the job at the visitors bureau她喜欢它,但她想要更多She worries that can’t happen unless she leavesWhat’s possible when you live in the Delta, she told me, can seem so small.

“I won’t say Freedom Summer didn’t achieve anything, because look at me, I am sitting here in an office that never had a black person,” she said“We had a black mayor, my doctors are blackBut our kids still don’t get the best education and the system is handicapping them一切都是为了什么?“

And later that night, I saw the old Mississippi peeking through the veneer.


When I drove my great-aunt back to Jackson, she had rather casually pointed at a restaurant named Lusco’s that had been in that exact location when she was a childOf course, as a child she’d been barred from eating thereI immediately decided that I would eat there that night upon my return.

Lusco’s was founded in 1921 by Italian immigrantswho solidified their assimilation processby banning black dinersFive generations later, the restaurant is still owned by the same familyAnd its inside looks much as it did during Freedom Summer同样的油毡,虽然褪色和剥落The same soda fountain stools, though the soda fountain is long gone.

The clientele is nearly all white, and since Lusco’s is but a few blocks from Baptist Town, a black security guard stands outside, opening the door for every patron coming in and out, and walking them the few feet to their car.

I stood outside and talked to the hostess who’d stepped outside for a smokeShe was part of that Lusco fifth generation“Our customers don’t like change,” she told me, complaining about the restaurant’s dated interior.

As I talked to her, a boisterous older white couple, probably in their 70s, came outThe woman was charming and seemed used to attentionI was told that everyone simply refers to her as “MrsGreenwood.” She was carrying a bottle of wine under her arm, and casually declared that she’d already finished one太太Greenwood asked me and the photographer with me where we were from.

Just then, two young black men walked by悄悄地,目光向下,他们前往拐角处的商店It was steamy out, and one was shirtless太太Greenwood’s eyes followed them, and a sneer curled her lips.

“That’s what you call our ‘local color,’” she saidThe last word, which she pronounced CAH-la, sounded mean and hard in my earsThe photographer and I exchanged looks but said nothing也许我变白了,因为太太格林伍德试图恢复。

“I’m not being ugly,” she said“It’s not safe here.” She scurried to the beige town car where her husband was waiting and they drove off, I imagined to their home across the Yazoo River.

I went back to my hotel room and wrote in my notes, “The Delta can be devastating.”

Still, I couldn’t help but recall that same morning when a young white man saw Aunt Charlotte trying to get into her car and rushed over to her, opened the door and then solicitously held her purse while she pulled her arthritic legs into the carHe had called her “ma’am” and wished her a nice day.

I left Greenwood a few days later在杰克逊机场,现在被称为Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers国际机场, sits a little portico right at the check-in countersIt’s dedicated to Evers and traces some of the key moments in Mississippi’s struggle for civil rightsAt the center in the back stands a bronze statue of a little white girl with her arm thrown around the shoulder of a little black girl.

On the inscription it said:Reconciliation: a work in progress.

David Sleight的设计方向。


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