David Dennis Jr. on the ways "The Movement Made Us"

Some of you may not know his story but David J. Dennis Sr. was a titan of the civil rights movement. Born in Louisiana, he joined the movement while at Dillard University in New Orleans. Like many people, he got pulled into the movement reluctantly at first. But by the time he was in his early 20s he was the field director for the Congress of Racial Equality  in Louisiana and Mississippi. He was working with Bob Moses to organize voter registration and turnout. And he was risking his life as a Freedom Rider. 
David Dennis Sr. helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer. He challenged the Democratic Party at virtually every level to become more integrated. He put his life on the line time and time and time again. And he lost friends. Friends like Medgar Evers who was gunned down outside of his home. Friends like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner who were abducted and murdered because of their work in Mississippi.
David survived but he lived with the guilt of that. For years, he couldn’t talk about the movement until one day Bob Moses brought him back into the fold. And David found a new purpose leading the Southern Initiative Algebra Project in Mississippi. And traveling across the country talking about the movement.
David Dennis Jr. grew up in that. And he’s become a titan in his own right, an award winning journalist that has chronicled the ongoing freedom struggle embodied through the work of Black Lives Matter. He won the 2021 American Mosaic Journalism Prize for his incredible coverage of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
Now, the father and son duo have a new book out chronicling the way that the movement shaped their lives. Today on the Reckon Interview, David Dennis Jr. joins discusses that book, “The Movement Made Us” and what it was like growing up in a civil rights household. He also discusses the ways in which movements are shaped by people in their twenties and the ongoing trauma of surviving a fight that never ends. As David Jr. asks can you call something post traumatic stress disorder if the trauma is ongoing?


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