Breach of Peace (book)

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Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders
Breach of Peace cover.jpg
Book cover
Author Eric Etheridge
Publisher Atlas & Co.
Publication date
ISBN 9780977743391
OCLC 191245899

Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders is a 2008 book by Eric Etheridge. The book features the life stories of over 80 of the Freedom Riders who fought to desegregate interstate bus transportation in the Deep South, and includes both their original mug shots and contemporary photographic portraits taken 45 or more years later by Etheridge. The mug shots had been stored for decades by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a state "government agency formed in 1956 to oppose the Civil Rights Movement and the federal government".[1] The preface was written by Roger Wilkins and the foreword by Diane McWhorter.


Notable Freedom Riders among the over 80 profiled in the book include James Bevel, C.T. Vivian, John Lewis, Carol Ruth Silver, Michael Audain, Bob Filner, Wyatt Tee Walker, Charles Grier Sellers, Byron Baer, Bernard Lafayette, Helen Singleton, and John Gager.

Critical reception[edit]

Reviewing for The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg called it a "marvelous, moving book". Hertzberg described the mug shots as "a remarkable exercise in folk portraiture" and called Etheridge's follow-up portraits "terrific".[2] A reviewer in the Los Angeles Times wrote that the emotions and values of the Freedom Riders are reflected in the mug shots: "Vividly rendered on those young faces -- excited, angry, naive, fearful, idealistic".[3] The Smithsonian Magazine's reviewer called the book a "visceral tribute to those road warriors".[4] A reviewer for the New York Times called the portrayal of individual activists "mesmerizing time capsules".[5] A reviewer for the New York Observer said that the book serves as "something of a closing meditation on the five decades of stirring progress" that led to the 2008 presidential candidacies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. [6]


  1. ^ Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (May 24, 2008). "Freedom Photos". Wall Street Journal. New York City. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ Hertzberg, Hendrik (February 25, 2009). "Breach of Peace". The New Yorker. New York City. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ George, Lynell (July 6, 2008). "'Breach of Peace' fills in the blanks on the 'Freedom Riders': In 1961, they risked life, limb and jail to travel through the South and strike a blow for civil rights. Eric Etheridge documents their stories". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ Holmes, Marian Smith (February 2009). "The Freedom Riders, Then and Now: Fighting racial segregation in the South, these activists were beaten and arrested. Where are they now, nearly fifty years later?". Smithsonian Magazine. Washington, DC. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ Balderama, Jennifer (July 3, 2008). "Disturbing the Peace". New York Times. New York City. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ Liu, Jonathan (June 26, 2008). "We Shall Photograph". New York Observer. New York City. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]