"Personal, often moving, occasionally troubling, always honest. . . . Sugarman’s gentle probing brings out thoughtful reflections that demonstrate how deeply the Mississippi experience affected those who worked there in the 1960s."—Andrew Dunar, author of America in the Fifties
No one experienced the Freedom Summer of 1964 quite like Tracy Sugarman. As an illustrator and journalist, Sugarman covered the nearly one thousand student volunteers who traveled to the Mississippi Delta to assist black citizens in the South in registering to vote. He interviewed these activists, along with local civil rights leaders and black and white residents not directly involved in the movement, and drew the people and events that made the summer one of the most heroic chapters in America’s long march toward racial justice.
In We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns, Sugarman chronicles the sacrifices, tragedies, and triumphs of that unprecedented moment in our nation’s history. Two white students and one black student were slain in the struggle, many were beaten and hundreds arrested, and churches and homes were burned to the ground by the opponents of equality. Yet the example of Freedom Summer—whites united with heroic black Mississippians to challenge segregation—resonated across the nation. The United States Congress was finally moved to pass the civil rights legislation that enfranchised the millions of black Americans who had been waiting for equal equal rights for a century. Blending oral history with memoir, We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns draws the reader into the lives of the activists, showing their passion and naïveté, the bravery of the civil rights leaders, and the candid, sometimes troubling reactions of the black and white Delta residents. Sugarman’s unique reportorial art, in word and image, makes this book a vital record of our nation’s past.
Tracy Sugarman is a nationally recognized illustrator whose art has appeared in magazines and books, and has been featured on PBS, ABC TV, NBC TV, and CBS TV. His entire collection of art from World War II has been acquired by the U.S. Library of Congress. He is the author of Stranger at the Gates: A Summer in Mississippi, My War: A Love Story in Letters and Drawings, and Drawing Conclusions: An Artist Discovers His America, the latter published by Syracuse University Press.
6 x 9, 354 pages, 61 black and white illustrations