Hands on the Freedom Plow: Gwendolyn Zohara Simmons and Joyce Ladner's Account of the Civil Rights Movement Essay

Submitted By Ariana-Assaf
Words: 490
Pages: 2

Ariana Assaf
Gwendolyn Zohara Simmons and Joyce Ladner In their accounts in Hands on the Freedom Plow, Gwendolyn Zohara Simmons and Joyce Ladner tell of how growing up in their respective environments shaped their outlook on the fight that was the Civil Rights Movement, and the steps they took in the quest for change. While both of them described the struggles of living in a racially segregated world—and as women, no less—one major difference in their stories is that Simmons’ family was heavily opposed to her involvement with the SNCC, whereas Ladner was mostly encouraged to maintain her involvement. This additional challenge for Simmons seems to make her skin thicker, as she could only depend on her fellow SNCC members for support. Her experiences seen alongside those of Ladner paint a rich, interesting picture of the people who were so fundamental during the Civil Rights Movement. In “Standing Up for Our Beliefs”, Joyce Ladner draws attention to the ways her mother taught her to act in the face of adversity. She emphasized the importance of dignity, and never shied away from demanding respect. This attitude clearly carried into her work with the SNCC. Just as she and her sister resolutely fought off the threat of sexual assault posed by a white cashier in the beginning of the story, they also took their responsibilities to organize the Jackson Public Library sit-in very seriously. Encouraged by idols such as Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer, and in a way their own mother, the girls took every precaution in organizing the demonstration so as to keep fellow activists safe from the school’s administration and the police. Although that particular sit-in ended in the arrest of many Tougaloo students and the expulsion of the student body president, actions such as these were an important step in the “prying open” of Mississippi. In “From Little Memphis Girl to Mississippi Amazon”, Gwendolyn Zohara Simmons describes her