The Secret Life of Bees Questions and Answers
by Sue Monk Kidd

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What are some good secondary sources for the theme of race relations in The Secret Life of Bees?  

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The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd takes place in 1964 in South Carolina. That summer was also called the Mississippi Freedom Summer because Civil Rights leaders launched a campaign to register African-Americans to vote in a state that had largely disenfranchised them. A good source to learn more about the summer is Doug McAdam's Freedom Summer (Oxford University Press, 1988). During the summer, activists by the names of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner were murdered while trying to register African-Americans to vote in Mississippi. For more information about the events of that summer, you can also consult Joel Norst's Mississippi Burning (New American Library, 1988).

In addition, Fannie Lou Hamer was a critical figure in organizing the Mississippi Freedom Summer. She became one of the leaders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was formed in opposition to the all-white Mississippi Democratic delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. You can use Fannie Lou Hamer's The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer: To Tell it Like it is' (University Press of Mississippi, 2011).

A very good source of information about the Civil Rights movement is Taylor Branch's trilogy about America during the Martin Luther King years. The first volume is Parting the Waters, which covers 1954-1963, and the second volume, Pillar of Fire, covers 1963-1965. The third volume, At Canaan's Edge, covers the period 1965-1968.

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