Beaches, Blood, and Ballots: A Black Doctor’s Civil Rights Struggle

 

Beaches9781934110287In Mississippi, the civil rights struggle began in May 1959 with “wade-ins.” In open and conscious defiance of segregation laws, Dr. Gilbert R. Mason led nine black Biloxians onto a restricted spot along the twenty-six-mile beach. A year later more wade-ins on beaches reserved for whites set off the bloodiest race riot in the state’s history and led the U.S. Justice Department to initiate the first-ever federal court challenge of Mississippi’s segregationist laws and practices. Simultaneously, Mason and local activists began their work on the state’s first school desegregation suit. As the coordinator of the strategy, he faced threats to his life.

Mason’s memoir gives readers a documented journey through the daily humiliations that segregation and racism imposed upon the black populace — upon fathers, mothers, children, laborers, and professionals. Born in 1928 in the slums of Jackson, Mason acknowledges the impact of his strong extended family and of the supportive system of institutions in the black neighborhood.

By Gilbert R. Mason, M.D. with James Patterson Smith

248 pp. 9781934110287


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