Books: Non-Fiction

Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi

Book — Non-fiction. By Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner, with Cheryl Reitan. Foreword by John Dittmer. 2013.
Documents the role of unsung heroes in the voting rights struggle in Holmes County, Mississippi.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 1961
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Organizing

thunderoffreedom9780813140933The world’s eyes were on Mississippi during the summer of 1964, when civil rights activists launched an ambitious African American voter registration project and were met with violent resistance from white supremacists. Sue Sojourner and her husband arrived in Holmes County, Mississippi, in the wake of this historic time, known as “Freedom Summer”.

From September 1964 until her departure from the state in 1969, Sojourner collected an incredible number of documents, oral histories, and photographs chronicling the dramatic events that she witnessed. In this remarkable book, written in collaboration with Cheryl Reitan, Sojourner presents a fascinating account of one of the civil rights movement’s most active and broad-based community organizing operations in the South.

Thunder of Freedom unites Sojourner’s personal experiences with her insights regarding the dynamics of race relations in the 1960s South, providing readers with a unique look at the struggle for rights and equality in Mississippi.

Illustrated with selections from Sojourner’s acclaimed catalog of photographs, this profound book tells the powerful, often intimate stories of ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things. [Publisher’s description.]

ISBN: 9780813140933 | University of Kentucky Press

Photos from Thunder of Freedom by Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner


Robert G. Clark, the first African American in the 20th century to be elected as a state representative to the Mississippi House. Photo from late 1967 in the campaign office after his win in the elections, by Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner.


Hartman Turnbow speaks at the Holmes County Freedom Democratic Party Third Sunday countywide meeting in 1965. Photo by Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner.


Hartman Turnbow was a master orator. Here he speaks at a Third Sunday countywide meeting in 1965. Also pictured are James Moore (center) from Pickens, and Walter Bruce (far right) from Durant. Photo by Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner.


Fannie Lou Hamer speaking at a rally in Holmes County Courthouse in 1968 when the people of Holmes County were first able to use the courthouse for their meetings. Photo by Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner.