Sons Of Mississippi: A Story Of Race And Its Legacy
Publish Date: 2003-03-18
Author: Paul Hendrickson
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Sons of Mississippi recounts the story of seven white Mississippi lawmen depicted in a horrifically telling 1962 Life magazine photographand of the racial intolerance that is their legacy.
In that photograph, which appears on the front of this jacket, the lawmen (six sheriffs and a deputy sheriff) admire a billy club with obvious pleasure, preparing for the unrest they anticipateand to which they clearly intend to contributein the wake of James Merediths planned attempt to integrate the University of Mississippi. In finding the stories of these men, Paul Hendrickson gives us an extraordinarily revealing picture of racism in America at that moment. But his ultimate focus is on the part this legacy has played in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
One of them is a grandsona high school dropout and many times marriedwho achieves an elegant poignancy in his struggle against the racism to which he sometimes succumbs. One son is a sheriff, as his father wasand in the same town. Another grandson patrols the U.S. border with Mexicoa law enforcement officer like the two generations before himdriven by the beliefs and deeds of his forebears. In all the portraits, we see how the prejudice bequeathed by the fathers has been transformed, or remained untouched, in the sons.
For its sense of fragile hope, Sons of Mississippi is a profoundly important, revelatory work of still-evolving history. A stunning book by a masterful writer.