The findings of Margaret Edds, author of "Free at Last" bear witness to the delayed results of the sacrifices of SNCC. The present outcome of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which SNCC inspired, is not a record of lost causes and irreversible defeats as was the fate of SNCC. Rather, the South today is a mixed record of stunning black political victories here and there, such as Atlanta, Birmingham and Richmond, where the records of black mayors have verified the meaning of the "Black Power" slogan voiced by SNCC leaders more than 20 years ago in Mississippi--at least in purely political terms. But on the other hand, black political power mirrors the deflated consequences of Pyrrhic victories. The winning of political power was not enough to lift the lid off the dreary economic stagnation and underdevelopment that still grips most of the rural and small-town backwaters of the Southern states. Where in contrast to the brilliant rise of a black Richard Arrington to the mayor's seat in Birmingham in 1979, Lowndes County, Ala., represents one of those "Counties with black voting age majorities . . . among the poorest in their respective states." In 1980, median family income for Lowndes County blacks was $7,493, compared with $18,350 for local whites--"In timeless tradition, a half-dozen white families and a few companies owned the bulk of the county's land." Told in microcosm, the story of Lowndes County is what happens when blacks win political office in the rural South even on the basis of overwhelming black voting majorities. The contrast between a Lowndes County and an Atlanta, Ga., is both striking and sobering. In 1985, a John Lewis of SNCC--who in 1965 would have his skull bashed in the famous Selma, Ala., civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus bridge--would become an Atlanta city councilman and part of a neighborhood voting coalition that included as many whites as blacks. A year later, Lewis would be elected to Congress on that basis of the same black-white coalition. At that time, Lewis could speak on Martin Luther King's birthday to the fact that all over the South, a nonviolent revolution had swept the region, resulting in a growing body of black voters and black elected officials. As in Lowndes County, these other Southern counties, as in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, had black sheriffs, majority black county commissions and school boards. But in other Black Belt counties, a decade of black political control had freed spirits but brought little in the way of economic and educational gains. Unlike the metropolitan-urban styles of black political power, there would not accrue the political sophistication of city councils, nor black members of corporate board rooms as in Atlanta--the mecca of Southern political and financial modernism for both blacks and whites.