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Freedom Summer Conference

Remembering Freedom Summer: Building a Better Future

October 19-21, 2014

Freedom Summer organizer Bob Moses talks to volunteers at an orientation in Peabody Hall, Western College for Women, now part of Miami's Western campus.
Ted Polumbaum Newseum Collection

Remembering Freedom Summer celebrates the 50th-anniversary of the Summer Project which is known widely as Freedom Summer. Civil rights organizations chose Mississippi as the state to launch this phase of the civil rights movement because it had the lowest rate of registered black voters in the country, limited educational opportunities for black children, and a dismal number of African Americans living in poverty. The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led the campaign. Slightly over 1,000 out-of-state volunteers from the North, mostly white college students, came south to do work in the Freedom Summer Project. These students lived among African Americans, despite the constant abuse and harassment they got from local whites. That year, in 1964, two white volunteers from New York, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, and James Earl Chaney, a Mississippi-born African American, were murdered. The authorities discovered their mutilated bodies several weeks after they had disappeared. The response of Americans across the country prompted Congress to enact the voting rights act in 1965. In Remembering Freedom Summer, Mississippi State University and African American Studies will bring activists who were involved in the movement as well as scholars who write about it to look back, as they suggest ways the State can move forward in being a welcoming community for all people.

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