50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer
This summer is the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a time when nearly one thousand student volunteers traveled to the Mississippi Delta to assist black citizens in the South in registering to vote. Two white students and one black student were slain in the struggle, many were beaten and hundreds arrested, and churches and homes were burned to the ground by the opponents of equality. Yet the example of Freedom Summer— whites united with heroic black Mississippians to challenge apartheid—resonated across the nation.
No one experienced Freedom Summer quite like illustrator and journalist Tracy Sugarman. He interviewed the activists, along with local civil rights leaders and black and white residents not directly involved in the movement and drew the people and events that made the summer one of the most heroic chapters in America’s long march toward racial justice.
In We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns: The Kids Who Fought for Civil Rights in Mississippi, Sugarman chronicles the sacrifices, tragedies, and triumphs of that unprecedented moment in our nation’s history. Blending oral history with memoir, Sugarman draws the reader into the lives of his subjects, showing the passion and naiveté of the volunteers, the bravery of the civil rights leaders, and the candid, sometimes troubling reactions of the black and white Delta residents. Sugarman’s unique reportorial art, in word and image, makes this book a vital record of our nation’s past.