On June 5, 1966, the civil rights hero James Meredith left Memphis, Tennessee, on foot. Setting off toward Jackson, Mississippi, he hoped his march would promote black voter registration and defy racism. The next day, he was shot by a mysterious white man and transferred to a hospital. What followed was one of the key dramas of the civil rights era. When the leading figures of the civil rights movement flew to Mississippi to carry on Meredith's effort, they found themselves confronting Southern law enforcement officials, local activists, and one another. In the subsequent three weeks, Martin Luther King Jr. narrowly escaped a mob attack, protesters were teargassed by state police, Lyndon Johnson refused federal intervention, and the young charismatic activist Stokely Carmichael first led the chant that would define the next phase of the civil rights era: Black Power. Aram Goudsouzian's Down to the Crossroads is the story of the last great march of the civil rights era and the first great showdown of the turbulent years that followed.
Tracking rural demonstrators' courage and impassioned debates among movement leaders, Goudsouzian reveals the complex legacy of an event that would both integrate African Americans into the political system and inspire an era of bolder protests against it. Full of drama and historical resonance, this book is civil rights history at its best.