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Charles Payne: Everyday-man and Civil Rights

When we think of the Civil Rights Movement, we often think of important
figures and leaders - people such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and
President Lyndon Johnson. These heroic individuals, the story goes, came
along and changed America. The Civil Rights Movements was a top-down
movement that succeeded because of courageous leaders like Dr. King.

The question is: How does Charles Payne's story of the civil rights
movement in Mississippi challenge this conventional narrative?

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Light of Freedom: Charles Payne's Account

Prolific Civil Rights historian Charles Payne in his 1995 book, 'I've got the Light of Freedom' writes (Payne, pp. 136, 1995):
"The younger people playing leadership roles after the war represent a bridging generation, more aggressive than the strictly accommodationist leadership of previous decades, less caught up in the patronage system, a foreshadowing of the still more aggressive local leadership to come."
What is this statement about and who is Payne describing? His 1995 work attempts to go beyond the 'big names', to look at the smaller stories that make up the bigger whole where on its top rests the giants to which much of the success of the movement like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks - he goes beyond the grander stories and looks at the actions and contributions of the 'everyman' and how their own political and social awakening have led to the success of the movement.

Is Payne's work discrediting the contributions of the leading figures? No. But what is so important is that he traces the back-story of the Negro Experience from the lynchings and injustices of the 19th century down to the gory details of the unspeakable horrors and Southern Mississippi norms the Blacks had been subjected to - viewpoints are traced and a political and ...

Solution Summary

This 1,039 word narrative explores Charles Payne's story of the civil rights movement in Mississippi to show that the Civil Rights movement was not just a top-down movement due to its leaders (i.e. Martin Luther King Jr.) but also because of the activism and courageous of the everyday-folk. references are listed for the purpose of exploring the topic further. A word version of the solution is attached for easy download and printing.

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