With the explosion of the direct-action phase of the Civil Rights Movement — sit-ins, freedom rides, marches, boycotts — voting rights and segregation emerge as the two central issues, intertwined and inseparable.
Participatory direct-action organizations such as CORE, SCLC, and SNCC take the fight for voting rights and desegregation into the deepest depths of the racist South — Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia. The slogan becomes "One Man, One Vote," and instead of lawsuits the strategy is to organize people at the grassroots to directly challenge and defy the entire "whites-only" system by demanding desegregation and the right to vote face-to-face, county-by-county, state-by-state.
Resistance to Black voter registration and defense of segregation by the KKK and White Citizens Councils is ruthless. And the entire range of law enforcement — from the cop on the beat to FBI Headquarters in Washington — mobilizes to defend the established order. Tens of thousands of would-be voters are fired or evicted, entire tent cities have to be set up to house sharecroppers thrown off their land for trying to register to vote. Hundreds, then thousands are jailed. Beatings, burnings, and economic retaliation are widespread. Many — the actual number has never been counted — are murdered. This resistance to civil rights is coordinated and orchestrated by powerful political and economic interests.