Praise for Wednesdays in Mississippi

At this year’s meeting of the Southern Historical Association, the Southern Association for Women Historians announced that Debbie Z Harwell, author of Wednesdays in Mississippi: Proper Ladies Working for Radical Change, Freedom Summer 1964 was awarded the Julia Cherry Spruill Prize.

The Spruill Prize is awarded annually for the best published book in southern women’s history.Wednesdays in Mississippi tells the story of the only civil rights program created for women by women as part of a national organization.

Wednesdays in Mississippi offers a new paradigm through which to study civil rights activism, challenging the stereotype of Freedom Summer activists as young student radicals and demonstrating the effectiveness of the quiet approach taken by proper ladies.

Harwell also delves into the motivations for women’s civil rights activism and explores influence of churches and religious leaders attempting to both uphold and tear down segregation in Mississippi. Lastly, the book confirms that the National Council of Negro Women actively worked for integration and black voting rights while addressing education, poverty, hunger, housing, and employment as civil rights issues.

DEBBIE Z. HARWELL teaches in the Honors College at the University of Houston and serves as the managing editor of Houston History. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Southern History.