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Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963

Branch, Taylor | Simon & Schuster, 1988


p. 253

In Mississippi during the civil rights struggle, a black student applied for admission to Ole Miss and was “summarily, legally, and forcefully committed to a mental asylum for a year–on the ground that anybody who did what he did must be crazy.”

p. 446

Riveting accounts of the Freedom Rides through the South in the summer of 1961–the violence and abdication of responsibility by local police (they would negotiate in advance with the Klan, telling them how much time they would get alone with the riders before police moved in.) Birmingham, 1961: A dozen men surrounded “Jim Zweg, the white Wisconsin exchange student at Fisk in Nashville. One of the men grabbed Zweg’s suitcase and smashed him in the face with it. Others slugged him to the ground, and when he was dazed beyond resistance, one man pinned Zweg’s head between his knees so that others could take turns hitting him. As they steadily knocked out his teeth, and his face and chest were streaming with blood, a few adults on the perimeter put their children on their shoulders to view the carnage. A small girl asked what the men were doing, and her father replied, ‘Well, they’re really carrying on.’”