In You Can’t Eat Freedom: Southerners and Social Justice after the Civil Rights Movement, Greta de Jong offers a dynamic analysis of African American–led social justice movements in the post-1960s plantation counties of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. She shows how civil rights legislation cannot be understood apart from the economic transformations that took place in the same decades. Farm employment in the cotton counties declined precipitously after 1940, yet black workers had no access to industrial employment or the benefits associated with it. “Black people’s economic dependence severely limited their political independence,” she writes, “and civil rights leaders understood that raising black Southerners’ economic status was a prerequisite to ensuring the other rights they had fought for in the 1960s” (3). With a focus on the impact and implementation of civil rights and antipoverty legislation, de Jong “examines the ideological...

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