Minds Stayed on Freedom is a vivid portrait of the civil rights struggle in one Mississippi county. While the national Movement has been painted in broad strokes by journalists and scholars, here the experiences of ordinary people bring definition to the lived texture of the Civil Rights Movement. Interviewed by local youths, Movement veterans recount how they overcame their fear in the face of terrorist resistance and collectively transformed the political and social fabric of their community. Their stories were repeated across the rural South, although seldom with the force and vigor experienced in Holmes County, located in the Mississippi plantation country. The teenagers who conducted this oral history project strike a rare balance between poignant prose and pathbreaking research. The detailed picture that emerges from the interviews brings into sharp relief issues that remain hazy in studies of national scope: the crucial resource of black land ownership, the limited extent of church involvement, the commitment to armed self-defense, the role of women, divisions of social class within the Movement, the range of white response and retaliation, and the interplay between direct action and legal tactics. Minds Stayed on Freedom provides plenty of fodder for academic analysis, but the interviews retain a raw, dramatic power. As project advisor Jay MacLeod of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center writes in his introduction, "The drama in Holmes County began when a group of black farmers attempted to register to vote. Whites retaliated, pitting themselves directly against a small group of courageous black activists. The two sides battled each other. But they also battled for the hearts and minds of the black population. The tiny local Movement, armed with a vision of the future, tried to draw its people off the sidelines and into active involvement. Whites ntried to keep Holmes County blacks in their 'place' with a campaign of terror and intimidation. Minds Stayed

chapter |20 pages


Racism, Resistance, and the Origins of the Holmes County Movement
ByJay Macleod

chapter |14 pages

Rev. J.J. Russell & Mrs. Erma Russell

Holmes County's Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr.
ByKenneth Sallis, Willa Williams, Jennifer Dixon

chapter |10 pages

Ms. Austry Kirklin

“That Was a White Man's World”
ByLekeshia Brooks, Teleshia Kirklin

chapter |11 pages

Mrs. Cora Lee Roby & Mr. Vanderbilt Roby

“Stickin' the Best We Can”
ByMarques Saffold

chapter |9 pages

Mr. Jodie “Preacher” Saffold

“I Caught Hell”
ByMarques Saffold, Jeffrey Blackmon, Marvin Noel

chapter |14 pages

Mrs. Bernice Montgomery Johnson

Teacher of the Movement
ByKenneth Sallis, Tamara Wright

chapter |9 pages

Mrs. Viola Winters

"Struggling 'Til God Call Me"
ByTamara Wright, Michael Hooker

chapter |10 pages

Mr. Robert Cooper Howard

“They Wanted Me Bad”
ByJeffrey Blackmon, Felisha Dixon

chapter |7 pages

Mrs. Annie Washington

School Integration Through the Eyes of a Child
ByWilla Williams, Roderick Wright

chapter |8 pages

Ms. Murtis Powell

On the Front Lines of Battle
ByMarvin Noel, Roderick Wright

chapter |14 pages

Mr. Shadrach Davis

“It Don't Pay to Be Too Afraid”
ByThomas Frazier, Nathaniel Spurlock

chapter |11 pages

Mrs. Bee Jenkines

“Ready to Shoot Lead”
ByKenneth Sallis, Lekeshia Brooks

chapter |15 pages

Mr. T. C. Johnson

The Dirt Farmers Started the Movement
ByReginald Skinner, Jackie Collins

chapter |3 pages

Mr. Henry B. McClellan Holmes County Registrar

"I Never Harassed Anybody"
ByKenneth Sallis, Willa Williams

chapter |14 pages

Mrs. Leola Blackmon

“I Couldn't Hold My Peace”
ByDwyane Buchanan, John Darjean

chapter |8 pages

Mr. William B. Eskridge

“We Still Got a Long Ways to Go”
ByDwyane Buchanan, John Darjean, Jay Macleod