Twelve-year-old Sunny has a lot going on as summer rolls in on Greenwood, Mississippi, 1964. The Beatles are spinning out one new album after another – yeah, yeah, yeah. Her new stepmother has moved in, bringing along her children, Gillette and Audrey. Gillette’s not so bad for a brother. He and Sunny are bonding through forbidden adventures, such as swimming in the town pool at night. As it turns out, Ray, a black boy, is taking a secret swim when Gillette and Sunny break in. Sunny’s terrified screams attract the police. Ray escapes, but suddenly she and Gillette are in a whole lot of trouble.
Sunny does not realize that Greenwood would soon be the focus of the entire nation, as volunteers from up North mobilize to register black voters throughout the state of Mississippi. Although the Constitution allowed all citizens over the age of 21 to vote, many Southern states had enacted laws that required tests, fees, and other obstacles to black suffrage. The movement to infiltrate the South and support black communities came to be called Freedom Summer. Ironically, many would lose their freedom – and some their lives – before the summer ended.
As she did in the first book of The Sixties Trilogy, Countdown, Wiles pulls together first person accounts, photographs, and music to add authenticity and flavor to Sunny’s fictional story. The video clip below mimics that conjunction, with The Roots‘ performance of the Freedom Song, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Me Turn Around,” included in Revolution, with images from the Civil Rights movement.
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