Prof. John Dittmer's Local People Earns Raves
June 5, 1994
June 5, 1994, Greencastle, Ind. — Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, by John Dittmer, professor of history at DePauw University, "is the definitive analytical history of the black freedom movement in Mississippi," declares Julian Bond. "It is an exciting an dramatic story of unknown heroes persevering over decades of quiet struggle against rampant terror, and the villains who resisted them with lynch mob justice and sophisticated political backstabbing."
Dr. Dittmer's book has just been published by University of Illinois Press. It "chronicles the monumental battle waged by civil rights organizations and by the local people -- from the efforts to defeat Senator Bilbo in the 1946 election to the first-ever seating of a racially integrated Mississippi delegation at the 1968 Democratic National Convention," states a synopsis. "Through oral accounts, readers will come to know many of the local people and grass roots organizers who worked, and in some cases gave their lives, for the cause of civil rights -- people like Fannie Lou Hamer, the Sunflower County sharecropper who helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; Victoria Gray and Annie Devine, who with Mrs. Hamer challenged the seating of the Mississippi congressional delegation in 1965; and Bob Moses of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), the most important 'outsider' in the movement. Local People tells the whole grim story for the first time."
James T. Patterson, author of America's Struggle Against Poverty, 1900-1985, asserts, "Local People is well worth waiting for and well worth reading. It's a remarkable work of scholarship and a damned good book."
Neil R. McMillen, author of the Bancroft Prize-winning Dark Journey, calls Dittmer's work, "A monumental book worthy of its monumental subject ... Dittmer has crafted a book that can be read by nonspecialists and that will be welcomed by experts in the field.
The director of University of Illinois Press, Richard L. Wentworth, adds, "Local People is, in my opinion, one of the three or four most important books published by the University of Illinois Press in its 75-year existence."
John Dittmer received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Indiana University. Before coming to DePauw in 1985, he taught at IU, Tougaloo College in Mississippi, Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He previously authored Black Georgia in the Progressive Era, 1900-1920.
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