06/03/2014 09:08 am ET Updated Jun 03, 2014

Book Excerpt: The Civil Rights Movement Was Sometimes Armed--and Not Always Nonviolent


The late-summer sun was broiling the already sunbaked floodplains of the Mississippi Delta on August 31, 1962, when Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer and seventeen other men and women boarded an old school bus in front of the Williams Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in the little town of Ruleville.

The bus was normally used to haul day laborers to the cotton fields, but today it was headed for the Sunflower County courthouse twenty-six miles away in Indianola. The seat of Sunflower County, Indianola was also the birthplace of the Citizens’ Council—the white-collar, white-supremacist organization of prominent planters, businessmen and politicians who professed to disdain the hooded garb and violence of the Ku Klux Klan.

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