Then beginning with the sit ins of 1960 college

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segregation. Then, beginning with the sit-ins of 1960, college students, black and white, propelled the struggle to a new level of mass activism and civil dis- obedience. By the end of 1960, some seventy thousand people had participated in civil rights demonstrations. The sit-ins launched a decade of "great dreams" when, for the first time in American history, the young became active agents of social change. More than elevating blacks to full ci tizenship, declared the writer James Baldwin, the movement challenged the United States to rethink "what it really means by freedom:· When the journalist Sally Belfrage prepared to write her book Fr ee dom Summ er, chronicling th e events of 1964, a friend urged her to choose another title, since " 'freedom' has such dreadful CIA connotations:' With their freedom rides, freedom schools, freedom songs, free dom marches, and the insistent cry "freedom now ;' black Americans and their white allies reappropriated the central te rm of Cold War discourse and rediscovered its rad- ical potential. And the courage of thousands of ordinary men and women- maids and laborers alongside teachers, businessmen, and ministers-who risked physical and economic retribution to lay claim to freedom inspired a host of other challenges to the status quo, including a mostly white student movement known as the "New Left," the "second wave" of feminism, and claims by other dispossessed minorities. Togethe r, they restored to freedom the critical edge often lost in Cold War triumphalism, making it once again th e rallying cry of the disposse ss ed. 2 The Fr eedom Movement ., From th e beginnin g, the language of free dom pervaded th e bla ck m ove ment. It r es on ated in th e speech es of civil rights leaders and in the impromptu dec- larations and hand-lettered placards of th e struggle 's foot soldiers. On th e day of Rosa Parks 's court appearance in December 1 955 , even before th e bus boy- c ott had officially b ee n announ ce d, a torn piece of cardboard appeared on a bus shelter in Mont g om ery 's Court Squar e, advising passeng ers: "Don't ride the buses today. Don't ride it for freedom.'' 3 "Non e of us kn ew exactly what it meant:' on e participant later recalled, "but Sixtie s Freedom 2 7 7 II\'!~ '" ~ naa~ ~ ~ A cr oss burned in fro nt of a Freed om H ouse durin g the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1 96 4 was left in place by civil ri ghts wo rk ers, emblazoned w ith the movement's byword. ( Tam io Wak ayama) we were saying freed om :' During the Freedom Summer of 1964 , when the Stu- dent N on viole nt Co ordin at ing Committ ee (SNC C) e st ablished "freedom schools" for black children acro ss M is s is sipp i, less on s began wi th s tud ents being asked to define th e wo rd. Some ans wer s were specific ("going to public libraries"), s om e more abstract ("standing up fo r y ou r rights"). Some yo uths as sociated fr ee dom with "having po we r in the system ," oth ers with "hatred of restra int :' Some insisted that freedom meant legal equality; o th ers saw it as es - sentially a "state of mind :' 4 Anne Bra den, a white n at ive of the Sou th who too k a leading
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Christopher Reinemann
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