Seven Days of 1961: As civil rights movement intensified, these battles made the biggest difference

USA TODAY's “Seven Days of 1961” project is now an e-book available to registered users and subscribers.

The "Seven Days of 1961" series spotlights seven pivotal protests that fueled the civil rights movement and helped end legal segregation and extend voting rights to millions of Black Americans. It features stories from the last generation of civil rights-era veterans in graphic novels, a podcast series, live events, an augmented reality series, video and more.

The e-book includes many stories from the project, as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes stories from the journalists who traveled across the nation to meet with veterans at the locations where they protested in 1961. The book is available to download for free for subscribers on Kindle, Apple, Nook, Kobo and Google. A USA TODAY subscription costs $1 a week for the first year. You can learn more about subscribing here. The book can also be downloaded for free for anyone who becomes a registered user.

The "Seven Days of 1961" book is dedicated to civil rights activists "who fought for freedom and made our nation greater."

USA TODAY's "Seven Days of 1961" e-book is available to subscribers and registered users.
USA TODAY's "Seven Days of 1961" e-book is available to subscribers and registered users.

Reporter Deborah Barfield Berry conceived the project as a means to collect stories from veterans while they were still able to share them. She traveled to Mississippi in August 2021 to learn more about Tougaloo College students who put themselves and their families at risk to integrate a local library.

"It’s one thing to write about these historic places. It’s another to stand in front of them – with activists who were there when history was made," Berry recalled in the book.

As the project's main photographer and videographer, visual journalist Jasper Colt was the only journalist to travel to each of the protest sites highlighted in the series.

"Meeting the many veterans and visiting the sites of their experiences was surreal for me," he writes in the book. "As a student of civil rights history, it felt like we were capturing essential histories of the era that might otherwise go untold."

Other stories in the project explained how some civil rights battles have yet to be fully resolved, with stories on how barriers still exist for Black and other voters of color; how law enforcement is sometimes still used to suppress protests; and how institutions of power still push back against protest movements.

Deborah Berry
Deborah Berry

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inside the battles as civil rights movement hit a crescendo in 1961