With the exception of Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King and Fannie Lou Hamer, the outsize role that women played in the Southern freedom movement of the 1960s often seems absent from the Civil Rights canon. Here to set that record straight is a new essay collection, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. The book is an extraordinary corrective — a long-overdue roundup of reminiscences by 52 women who worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from roughly 1960 to 1966. Their accounts make it clear that women did much more than support male leaders in the Civil Rights Movement: Women led local grassroots campaigns, organized voter-registration drives in dangerous Southern backwaters and in many ways led SNCC as well.
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