Interview with Hodding Carter III
QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

WAS THERE ANY, AT WHAT POINT WOULD YOU SAY IN THE STATE OR IN THE SOUTH AS A WHOLE, THE STATE BEING THE LAST HOLD OUT, AT WHAT POINT DID THINGS FINALLY TURN THE TIDE IN TERMS OF COMING AROUND. WOULD YOU SAY IT WAS, IF IT WASN'T JACKSON, IT WAS OLE MISS...

Hodding Carter III:

No, what finally, no—the freedom summer was a great thing for mobilizing black Mississippians. It was a great thing for focusing the nation's attention on the reality of what segregation with a benign face really meant. It was a great thing finally forcing America to say this is not possible to tolerate anymore, but the freedom summer didn't change very much in Mississippi. At the end of it very few more people were registered which was the ostensible purpose of it than were registered before. At the end of it, the schools which had to go to some form of desegregation had done so because of court order and not because of the freedom summer. There was no real change because of the freedom summer. What there was, was a total change in the atmosphere, in which really many blacks were no longer going to be passive participants in a process that robbed them of their citizenship. No, what changed Mississippi finally was the Civil Rights Act of '64 and the Voting Rights Act of '65. In which the combination of federal power and black activism combined to bring down the basic structures of the old order. And for Mississippi that was a revolution. It was radical change in the form, if not always in the spirit, of the society.