No part of the United States was more resistant to the civil rights movement and its pursuit of racial equality than Mississippi. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle explores the civil rights movement in that state to consider its emergence before the 1965 Voting Rights Act and its impact long after. Did the civil rights movement have a lasting impact, and, if so, how did it bring about change? Kenneth T. Andrews is the first scholar to examine not only the history of the movement but its social and political legacy as well. His study demonstrates how during the 1970s and '80s, local movements worked to shape electoral politics, increase access to better public schools, and secure the administration of social welfare to needy African Americans.
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle is also the first book of its kind to detail the activities of white supremacists in Mississippi, revealing how white repression and intimidation sparked black activism and simultaneously undermined the movement's ability to achieve far-reaching goals. Andrews shows that the federal government's role was important but reactive as federal actors responded to the sustained struggles between local movements and their opponents. He tracks the mobilization of black activists by the NAACP, the creation of Freedom Summer, efforts to galvanize black voters, the momentous desegregation of public schools and the rise of all-white private academies, and struggles over the economic development of black communities. From this complex history, Andrews shows how the civil rights movement built innovative organizations and campaigns that empowered local leadership and had a lasting legacy in Mississippi and beyond.
Based on an original and creative research design that combines extensive archival research, interviews with activists, and quantitative historical data, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle provides many new insights into the civil rights struggle, and it presents a much broader theory to explain whether and how movements have enduring impacts on politics and society. What results is a work that will be invaluable to students of social movements, democratic politics, and the struggle for racial freedom in the U.S.