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Aram Goudsouzian on Race, Politics, and the James Meredith March Against Fear

Aram Goudsouzian

University of Memphis Chair of History and author Aram Goudsouzian talks about the James Meredith March against Fear in June 1966, showing how it really was a crossroads in the Civil Rights Movement.

Host Jonathan Judaken talks with the Chair of the History Department at the University of Memphis and author Aram Goudsouzian about the confluence of events surrounding the James Meredith march from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS that helped redefine and unite the Civil Rights Movement. 

Goudsouzian, in his most recent book, Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear, writes, "In popular memory, the Meredith March won resonance for the rise of Stokely Carmichael, the evolution of Martin Luther King, the bizarre crusade of James Meredith, the alienation of Lyndon Johnson, and the rage of black militants." He describes the events that led to co-operation between various civil rights organizations, including the N.A.A.C.P., the Congress of Race Equality (C.O.R.E.), the National Urban League, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (S.N.C.C.). 

They discuss how the Federal government, under President Lyndon Johnson, and local and state governments reacted to the march, as well as the press coverage and attention given to the march by local white citizens in Mississippi, as Meredith and others continued to make their way from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS on foot. 

Further, Goudsouzian describes  how Stokely Carmichael and S.N.C.C. launched the slogan “Black Power” during the March Against Fear: what Carmichael meant by “Black Power,” how was it understood at the time, and whether the call for “Black Power” indicated that the civil rights movement was over, or if it was a continuation of the civil rights struggle.

Goudsouzian  will discuss the story of the last great march of the civil rights era and the first great showdown of the turbulent years that followed including efforts by James Meredith Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael at a free public lecture at 6p.m. in Blount Auditorium in Buckman Hall at Rhodes College on February 13, 2014 as part of Rhodes' Communities in Conversation series. 

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