New Book Chronicles 1965 Murders of two Civil Rights Activists

"Jimmie Lee & James does an excellent job of chronicling a truly American movement.

[Jimmie Lee Jackson\James Reeb]
The book JIMMIE LEE & JAMES draws unnerving parallels between conditions that spurred the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter movement today.
Photo: Book Cover

The 1965 murders of two civil rights activists––Jimmie Lee Jackson and James Reeb––ignited the now historic march from Selma to Montgomery, yet their sacrifice and impact on the movement that forever changed America has been largely overlooked.

Most histories of the civil rights movement gloss over the deaths of Jimmie Lee Jackson and James Reeb, noting them briefly, before moving on to the more iconic moments that led to the Selma marches and the passage of the Voting Rights Act––until now, when, with voting rights under attack, it is more important than ever to understand the sacrifices made to ensure that millions of Americans of color were ensured the right to vote.

The late Congressman John Lewis said, “Jimmie Lee Jackson, along with so many others, must be looked up on as the fathers and mothers of America. His death, with others, has liberated not just a people, but a nation. An because of what he did and so many others did, President Johnson came to the Congress, made a dramatic speech, unbelievable address, to the Congress, and presented the Voting Rights act.”

The book JIMMIE LEE & JAMES draws unnerving parallels between conditions that spurred the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter movement today. It is educational in telling the story of a diverse coalition coming together to insist the country have a bigger conversation about justice. These efforts were principled, coordinated, and they created dialogue, enabling people to find common ground and inspiration in their diversity. Today, we are not succeeding in creating dialogue or space for meaningful conversation.

In this year marking the 55th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, NY Times bestselling author, Steve Fiffer with co-author Adar Cohen, finally tell the untold story in JIMMIE LEE AND JAMES: Two Lives, Two Deaths, and The Movement that Changed America (Regan Arts). The story of two individuals––their lives, their deaths, and their impact on a movement that forever shaped US history. It is a true story of justice denied, justice delayed, and justice delivered. It is a story about painful sacrifice and the struggle to secure one of the most fundamental rights of any democracy for all Americans.

This book delivers a fresh view of how the Voting Rights Act was passed by telling the story of two very different foot soldiers of the movement––one black and one white who were murdered within two weeks of each other. Together, “They bring to life a watershed moment in our nation’s history,” said the late Julian Bond, NAACP Chairman Emeritus. “They invite readers to take a closer look inside, and give them a deeper understanding of the events that galvanized an already-strong civil rights movement to one of its greatest successes.”

The late Reverend C.T. Vivian said, “Jimmie Lee & James does an excellent job of chronicling a truly American movement. Further adding, “As the book so clearly explains, this was a struggle led by African-Americans, but white Americans played a major role. Jews and other denominations added institutional support from every part of America. We suffered and sometimes died together.”

“At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom.”––President Lyndon Johnson

About the Authors

Steve Fiffer is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than a dozen books, including his memoir Three Quarters, Two Dimes, and a Nickel, as well as collaborations with civil rights lawyer Morris Dees and former Secretary of State James Baker. The winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, his work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Slate. He is a graduate of Yale and the University of Chicago Law School. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.

Adar Cohen is a mediator and facilitator. With his help, gang leaders and police officers collaborated to prevent gun violence in Chicago. Through conversations he led, former combatants in the Northern Ireland conflict became partners in advocating for more peaceful, integrated neighborhoods. A Harry S. Truman Scholar, a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, and a George J. Mitchell Scholar, Adar holds a PhD in conflict resolution from the University of Dublin. He has lectured at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and at the invitation of the King of Bhutan, at Sherubste University, the Himalayan Kingdom’s first institution for higher education. He is a co-founder of Civic Leadership Foundation, which has achieved life-changing outcomes for over 25,000 at-risk youth.

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