Q&A with Lisa Anderson Todd

We recently spoke with UPK author Lisa Anderson Todd about her newest book, For a Voice and the Vote: My Journey with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. For a glimpse into her experience, check out our following Q&A.

UPK: Your involvement in this story doesn’t begin with your book, For a Voice and the Vote. You were present for many of the events that summer. Why have you chosen now to circle back to document this period in your life?

LAT: The summer of 1964 was a significant time in my life, but something that I did not reflect on as I focused on my legal career. I collected the books written about the Mississippi Summer Project, but did not take the time to read and evaluate them as they might pertain to my own experience. In retirement I decided to devote myself to learning more about the Mississippi civil rights movement, particularly what happened to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) at the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City. I didn’t understand why or how the MFDP, having done all that was required to be an accredited delegation and entitled to represent all the citizens of Mississippi—black and white—was rejected by the Democratic Party. I wanted to reflect, satisfy my own curiosity, and provide a record of these important historical events from my position as a participant-observer.

UPK: What drew you, back in 1964, to volunteer for the Mississippi Summer Project?

LAT: In 1963, the summer before, I had spent time in Mississippi at a World Council of Churches work camp doing maintenance work for Tougaloo College and learning about the civil rights movement. I had not been active in the movement in college and now was seeing and hearing how black people were living as second class citizens in a segregated society. My experience made me decide to become a civil rights worker and to do what I could to help them gain their constitutional rights. My desire coincided with the plans for inviting as many as 1,000 college-age volunteers to spend the summer of 1964 working on voter registration, teaching in Freedom Schools, and helping in community centers.

UPK: As described by you, the summer of 1964 was a highly combustible and often scary situation for volunteers. Can you give us a sense of what it was like on the todd.final.inddground both for those involved locally and for outsiders like yourself who came in to volunteer?

LAT: The local people took real risks to participate in the civil rights movement: to attend mass meetings, to attempt to register to vote, to participate in demonstrations, or just to associate with the students encouraging local participation. They lost their jobs, lost credit needed to run a business or grow their crops, were arrested and beaten, had their homes shot into or firebombed, and were harassed with threatening phone calls. Outsiders could be arrested for disturbing the peace or traffic violations that did not occur. They were subject to harassment, called “communist,” and told to go back home. We found protection in the black community as we joined forces in the nonviolent struggle for freedom, equality, and justice.

UPK: After a summer spent rallying and registering voters in Mississippi, what was the mood like among those who made their way to Atlantic City for the Democratic Party Convention? Afterwards?

LAT: We were excited that finally we would draw the attention of the Democratic Party and the rest of the country to all that had happened in Mississippi during the summer. Publicity about the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner and the activities of the predominantly white volunteers in Mississippi had made the country more aware of the plight of disenfranchised Mississippi blacks. We were optimistic that the Democratic Party would seat the MFDP in lieu of the discriminatory, all-white official delegation. At the least we believed that there would be a reasonable compromise that would recognize the efforts of the MFDP. When the leadership of the Democratic Party—without negotiations with the delegation—made the final decision to give the MFDP two seats with at-large votes, we were disappointed and disillusioned.

UPK: In this book, you build upon your own experience with a vast amount of research including taped conversations from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library that have only recently become available. What was it like to go back and reconstruct the events and impacts of the MFDP’s efforts in 1964?

LAT: It was difficult to remember what happened fifty years ago, and I knew what I could remember might not be accurate, but I wanted to reconstruct the events as best I could. I was fortunate that I kept a detailed diary during the summer of 1963 that reflected how I learned about the Mississippi civil rights movement and that my parents saved the letters I sent them during the summer of 1964. I supplemented this information with accounts of the summer from books and internet sources. This was a new and interesting process for me.

Oral interviews of principals involved with the MFDP Convention Challenge and the LBJ tapes provided me my first information of what had been going on behind the scenes in Atlantic City. We heard at the time that LBJ pressured delegates to change their votes so there would not be a floor fight, but I did not know why he was so adamantly opposed to seating the MFDP and how he managed to obtain the result he wanted. The chronology of events over the five hectic days in Atlantic City has been confused in some accounts. With the facts I was able to find in primary sources, I have tried to set the record straight. The political strength of the MFDP is apparent from the efforts the Democratic Party leadership had to take to prevent the MFDP from winning public favor and obtaining a floor vote that would disrupt the Convention and reveal the split within the Democratic Party.

UPK: You say at one point in the introduction that you often caught yourself saying, “I never knew that.” Were there revelations in this book writing process that stood out or changed how you understood that summer? Did anything you learn change your understanding of your own experience?

LAT: One surprise was that many in SNCC opposed white volunteers coming, including Charlie Cobb, a leader of the opposition who was a project director in the Greenville area where I was assigned. I did not know about this opposition or the reasons for it, but can understand now how resentful the local black leadership could be of white volunteers.

UPK: Now, some fifty years removed from the events of that summer, what is the most important thing to remember about the efforts of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party?

LAT: The dispossessed, grassroots, poor, black underclass of Mississippi found their voice as they sought the right to vote. Their efforts began long before the Mississippi Summer Project, when stalwart individuals registered to vote and began to organize politically, but even with student assistance and encouragement in the early 1960s, the process proved to be slow. The formation of a new open political party—the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party—attracted national attention. What is most important to remember is that it was the courageous actions of many local people who were willing to take risks to join and organize the MFDP. It is now time to recognize the role of the MFDP played in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

At the Oscars, Patricia Arquette Speaks Up for a Woman’s Wage

During a night jam-packed with the biggest names in Hollywood, it was one winner’s acceptance speech that made television viewers and award show attendees alike stand up and take notice.

After winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a single mother in BoyhoodPatricia Arquette took to the stage to send a message:

“To every woman who gave birth to every tax payer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

The spirited call-to-action was applauded by the audience and earned an enthusiastic reaction from the one and only Meryl Streep. streep Arquette’s speech comes at a moment when the issue of equal pay and rights for women is at the forefront of many minds, particularly after the Sony Pictures hack that released droves of emails some of which revealed dramatic pay inequality between leading women and their male counterparts, including even blockbuster stars like Jennifer Lawrence.

In the U.S., that pay gap is hardly restricted to Hollywood. A 2014 report from the World Economic Forum revealed that American women make only 66% of what their male equals do, ranking the U.S. 65th out of 142 countries when it comes to wage equality.

Kessler-HarrisCompF.inddLast year, the University Press of Kentucky released an updated edition of a path breaking classic: A Woman’s Wage by Alice Kessler-Harris. The book explores the meanings of women’s wages in the United States throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and explains the historical reasons behind the unequal treatment of women in the workforce and strips away the arguments in favor of this discrimination.

Kessler-Harris focuses on many of the same issues that Arquette pointedly raised in her speech as well as in other interviews including the battle over minimum wage for women, the argument for equal pay, and the debate over comparable worth, exposing the relationship between family ideology and workplace demands and how the notion of the traditional family has changed over time.

In a new chapter for the updated edition Kessler-Harris goes even further. “A Woman’s Wage, Redux,” argues for a social wage that responds to a working family’s needs. This new social wage would help relieve the so-called double burden on women and make it easier for both men and women to successfully balance work and family life.

While there is still an unreasonably difficult battle ahead, Arquette’s speech is another reminder that while the arc of history may bend toward progress, it only does so at the behest of those who fight for it.

Lights, Camera, Action: From Hollywood to Hitchcock

There are only two more days until the 87th Academy Awards!

So in honor of the Oscars and the amazing cast and crew that create such award worthy productions, here is a list of the upcoming or recently published books through UPK with a focus on Hollywood and the film industry that will intrigue and fascinate anyone interested in the Oscars this coming Sunday.

My Life as a Mankiewicz is a fascinating look at the life of an individual whose creativity and work ethic established him as a member of the Hollywood writing elite. Mankiewicz details his journey through the inner world of the television and film industries, beginning with his first job as production assistant on The Comancheros (1961), starring John Wayne. My Life as a Mankiewicz illuminates his professional development as a writer and director, detailing his friendships and romantic relationships with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars as well as his struggle with alcohol and drugs. With the assistance of Robert Crane, Mankiewicz tells a story of personal achievement and offers an insider’s view of the glamorous world of Hollywood during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane, known to Hogan’s Heroes fans as Colonel Hogan, was discovered brutally murdered in his Scottsdale, Arizona, apartment. His eldest son, Robert Crane, was called to the crime scene. In this poignant memoir, Robert Crane discusses that terrible day and how he has lived with the unsolved murder of his father. But this storyline is just one thread in his tale of growing up in Los Angeles, his struggles to reconcile the good and sordid sides of his celebrity father, and his own fascinating life.

The name Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1867–1932) is synonymous with the decadent revues that the legendary impresario produced at the turn of the twentieth century. In this definitive biography, authors Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson offer a comprehensive look at both the life and legacy of the famous producer Florence Ziegfeld.They provide a lively and well-rounded account of Ziegfeld as a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a lover, and an alternately ruthless and benevolent employer. Lavishly illustrated with over seventy-five images, this meticulously researched book presents an intimate and in-depth portrait of a figure who profoundly changed American entertainment.

In Hollywood Presents Jules Verne, Brian Taves investigates the indelible mark that the author has left on English-language cinema. Adaptations of Verne’s tales have taken many forms—early movie shorts, serials, feature films, miniseries, and television shows—and have been produced as both animated and live-action films. Taves illuminates how, as these stories have been made and remade over the years, each new adaptation looks back not only to Verne’s words but also to previous screen incarnations. He also examines how generations of actors have portrayed iconic characters such as Phileas Fogg and Captain Nemo, and how these figures are treated in pastiches such as Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012). Investigating the biggest box-office hits as well as lower-budget productions, this comprehensive study will appeal not only to fans of the writer’s work but also to readers interested in the ever-changing relationship between literature, theater, and film.

Known as the celebrated director of critical and commercial successes such as Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963), Alfred Hitchcock is famous for his distinctive visual style and signature motifs. While recent books and articles discussing his life and work focus on the production and philosophy of his iconic Hollywood-era films like Notorious (1946) and Vertigo (1958), Hitchcock Lost and Found moves beyond these seminal works to explore forgotten, incomplete, lost, and recovered productions from all stages of his career, including his early years in Britain.

Be sure to watch the Oscars this coming Sunday and don’t forget about these great reads. They are sure to wow the crowd!

Too Cold for Comfort

With subzero weather and record breaking lows, many people are staying in their homes these next few days as they wait out the frigid temperatures and icy roads.

What better way to spend your day then catching up on your favorite UPK book! Here is a look at some of my favorite UPK books that I would suggest reading over the next few snow days.

Headless visions—howls and moans—ghostly ladies dressed in black and white—a fiddling spirit dancing on the road. Such are the sights and sounds that inhabit the pages of Lynwood Montell’s Kentucky Ghosts. This collection is representative of the rich tradition of ghost or “haint” tales passed on through the ages and across cultures as a way of dealing with death and the lore of the spirit world. In retelling the tales, Montell has included details about architecture, geography, and local culture. Each tale is told in the voice of the narrator who believe the story to be true. And, who knows . . . ?

This book is also being discounted by 20% as part of UPK’s holiday sale!

To many, Kentucky means the greatest thoroughbreds in the world. To others, it is the home of the finest bourbon. But the obvious success of burgoo, Owensboro barbeque, and Harlan Sanders’s Kentucky Fried Chicken carries the state’s reputation for excellence to a wider audience. From the perfect mint julep to benedictine, from a classic hot brown to cheese chutney, Kentucky’s Best captures the full range of the state’s culinary delights. Linda Allison-Lewis combines traditional and gourmet dishes, offering recipes from all parts of the state and from beloved restaurants and inns.

The paperback edition of this book is being discounted at 20% as well! Get it while it’s still on sale!

Doris Ulmann (1882-1934) was one of the foremost photographers of the twentieth century, yet until now there has never been a biography of this fascinating, gifted artist. Born into a New York Jewish family with a tradition of service, Ulmann sought to portray and document individuals from various groups that she feared would vanish from American life. Inspired by the paintings of the European old masters and by the photographs of Hill and Adamson and Clarence White, Ulmann produced unique and substantial portrait studies. Working in her Park Avenue studio and traveling throughout the east coast, Appalachia, and the deep South, she carefully studied and photographed the faces of urban intellectuals as well as rural peoples. Her subjects included Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, African American basket weavers from South Carolina, and Kentucky mountain musicians. Relying on newly discovered letters, documents, and photographs—many published here for the first time—Philip Jacobs’s richly illustrated biography secures Ulmann’s rightful place in the history of American photography.

This book is currently 80% off of it’s cloth edition during the holiday sale! Buy it before the sale ends soon!

It’s cold outside! Stay warm this winter with one of UPK’s books! Click here to stop by UPK’s website and check out more of our record breaking books for a good read during these record breaking temperatures.

UK Basketball and Their Historic Undefeated Season

The University of Kentucky basketball team made history last night with a 66-48 win over the Tennessee Volunteers. With a win streak of 26-0, the UK men’s basketball team has broken the record for the longest number of consecutive wins at the University of Kentucky. The only other time a Kentucky basketball team has gone undefeated for 25 games was in 1953 under Coach Adolph Rupp, who Rupp Arena is consequently named after. Does this mean Coach Calipari will get an arena named after him? We can only hope.

This historic win has people wondering what the secret is to the success and continued undefeated season of the UK basketball team. Is it the coach, is it the talent of the players, or is it perhaps the ability of the players to communicate effectively and share the ball with each other? Maybe it’s a combination of all three. Whatever the reason for the success, Coal Cal is probably extremely euphoric at the upward trajectory his team is heading.

After the game, Coal Cal stated, “I’ll probably mention it tomorrow, what they’ve done. At a school like Kentucky to hold records like they’re holding, incredible stuff now.” Coach Cal, the players, and the Big Blue Nation are celebrating yet another win and are eager to see how the rest of the season will play out and how the Wildcats will fare during the NCAA tournament in March.

During the postgame interview, Willie Cauley-Stein said, “When coach really says this is a wolfpack, this is a wolfpack. Everyday we’re trying to make each other better and that’s powerful.” That may be the answer to the success the UK men’s basketball team has seen this season, but being able to dunk the ball like this doesn’t hurt. 

To read more about the BBN, the UK men’s basketball team, the coaches, and its legendary history as one of the top collegiate basketball programs of all time, go to UPK’s website to check out these books below! They’re sure to be a great read!



This Thursday is the grand opening of David Zurick’s art gallery, 38.05°N, 84.50°W!

Attention all art lovers! Be sure to clear your evening for this Thursday, February 19, 2015 and head over to the Mill & Max Contemplative Art Gallery for an evening of photography and ambiance. The evening will begin at 6 pm with the Opening Reception and Artist’s Talk with UPK author, David Zurick!

To prepare yourself for the event, catch yourself up Zurick’s works in the UPK books, Land of Pure Vision: The Sacred Geography of Tibet and the Himalaya and Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya.

Here are some of Zurick’s photos from the gallery “Sacred Geography series” on his website:

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Can’t make it to the grand opening? No worries. The gallery will be displayed from February 19 – March 22! We hope to see you there!

Oscar Nominees for Best Picture

With the Oscars just around the corner, actors and actresses alike are preparing to look their best and dress to the nines for this star-studded event. The red carpet will host hundreds of interviewers, eagerly waiting to ask the Oscar attendees the most important question of the night: What are you wearing? It never fails that this question is asked every year, but what does this have to with the success of the movie or the actor or actress’s own take on the importance of the film? The answer is nothing.

I know! The answer is so shocking! But it is true. The brand of someone’s dress is of no importance compared to the work that these Hollywood stars have done within the last year. The directors and cast involved in the making of each film work tirelessly to create a work of art worthy of being awarded an Oscar. These films deserve that recognition because not only was an extordinary amount of time and effort put into producing and making each film, each movie was created for a purpose and that purpose is much greater than the outfit that a celebrity is wearing.

So in honor of those who have worked extremely hard and have spent long hours in pursuit of creating a film that would stand out among the crowd, here is a look at this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture. Cue the lights.


Synopsis: Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, with his skill and accuracy, saves countless lives and becomes one of the most legendary and trained U.S. military snipers of all time. However, as Kyle goes through four tours of duty, the stress and the weight of the war have an immense affect on him and his family.

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner

Fun fact: Chris Kyle once said that if there is a filmmaker that would make a film about him, it would only be Clint Eastwood and no one else.


Synopsis: Riggan Thompson is an actor whose most famous role is the iconic superhero Birdman. As Thompson prepares for the opening of his Broadway production, an attempt to restore himself to his former days as a serious actor, he tries to find a way to juggle his career, his broken family, and ultimately himself.

Director:Alejandro González Iñárritu

Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts

Fun fact:There are only sixteen visible cuts in the entire film. Also, the film is edited to look like one continuous shot.


Synopsis: Over the course of 12 years, this film journeys through the childhood of a boy named Mason as he faces the ugly truth of the divorce of his parents and tries to find his way through childhood and having to grow up.

Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke

Fun fact: The movie was filmed over a span of 12 years.


Synopsis: This film portrays the escapades of Monsieur Gustave, a hotel concierge, and the lobby boy, Zero Mustafa, as they live and work at the Grand Budapest Hotel during the time between World War I and World War II.

Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody

Fun fact: Johnny Depp was Wes Anderson’s initial choice for the role of M. Gustave.


Synopsis: During World War II, Alan Turing and a group of extraordinary English mathematicians work to solve the German Enigma encryption code, an effort that would ultimately save millions of lives. However, Turing must keep his homosexuality secret due to his fear that it would put the entire war effort at risk because of persecution from his own country.

Director: Morten Tyldum

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Alex Lawther

Fun fact: Alex Lawther, who plays the young Turing, and Benedict Cumberbatch wore dentures in the film that were exact copies of Alan Turing’s own 60-year old set of false teeth.


Synopsis: This film portrays the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and his historic campaign for justice and equality for African Americans during 1965 when the freedom marches were taking place from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Director: Ava DuVernay

Cast: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

Fun fact: The director, Ava DuVernay had to write new variations of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches because another studio had purchased the rights of the real speeches.


Synopsis: This film displays the life of Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Hawking as they come to terms with the onset of his motor neuron disease and the challenges that arise.

Director: James Marsh 

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Prior

Fun fact: Stephen Hawking said that there were certain times throughout the movie when he thought he was watching himself.


Synopsis: At 19 years of age, Andrew enrolls as a student at a music conservatory in the hopes of becoming a legendary jazz drummer with the aid of an instructor who believes he can bring out Andrew’s full potential through his relentless and unusual teaching style.

Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist

Fun fact: The film was shot in 19 days.

If any of these films sound interesting to you, stop by our website. UPK has a variety of award worthy books for readers of any genre and many more soon to be released for publication. Check them out here!