The summer of 1961, Mississippi - deep in the heart of the South: The short-lived advances made during the Reconstruction era were memories buried deep in the past for the people of the South. The South (Mississippi especially) had developed a class system based on racial segregation and discrimination. There had emerged, in Bob Moses' words, a "seemingly comfortable master-servant relationship" between Blacks and whites in Mississippi. The atmosphere almost seemed to endorse and support the racial violence and persecution instigated by the KKK. The rural counties of Mississippi were home to some of the most impoverished people in America, mainly in Black communities. As it was, these mainly Black communities were rarely provided for with indoor heat or any kind of a sewer system.

Pastor Ed King recounted a very candid description of the state's dire circumstances in a memorial service for : The state's political system was kept under control by the White Citizens Council, which was funded by the state legislature. This "Council" made it impossible for any Mississippi politician to even consider being a moderate, voting out three for opposing an extremely anti-Negro piece of legislation. The WCC had forced 60 Methodist ministers out of the Southern half of the state. The newspapers ignored white violence, and all national news television reports were preceded by saying, "The following is an example of biased untrue Yankee reporting." This is how the Mississippi government kept a lid on its little secret for so long. The Civil Rights worker were in search of room to move. Finally, in 1957, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which gave a "crawl space" for the movement. And then, the sit-ins began.

Learn about the "crawl space" in the Algebra Project