Mississippi Freedom Summer-

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Transcript Mississippi Freedom Summer-

FREEDOM SUMMERThe Right to Vote and its impact on the
Civil Rights Movement
History/Social Science
Academic Content Standard:
11.10- students analyze the
development of federal civil rights
and voting rights.
– 11.10.5 Discuss the diffusion of the civil rights
movement of African Americans from the churches of
the rural South and the urban North, including the
resistance to racial desegregation in Little Rock and
Birmingham, and how the advances influenced the
agendas, strategies, and effectiveness of the quests of
American Indians, Asian Americans, and Hispanic
Americans for civil rights and equal opportunities.
Unpacking the Standard:
You need to know…
Leaders that were involved in the Civil Rights Movement
Strategies that were used to illicit change
Groups that were formed to help illicit change
Laws and legislation that were passed as a result of the
Civil Rights Movement
e. The difficulties that were faced by participants of the
Civil Rights Movement
f. How the Civil Rights Movement affects us today
What’s the Big Idea?
Students will understand
The evolution of 20th
century American
civil rights movement
was an effort to fulfill
the promises and
expectations of the
Declaration of
Independence and
United States
The Essential Questions?
What strategies did the
social groups use to
solicit change?
How did the strategies
bring about change?
What roles did the
various leaders/groups
of the movement play?
(focus of the lesson)
How did the civil rights
movement evolve to its
present day form?
Overview of Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer
was a highly
publicized campaign
in the Deep South
during the summer
of 1964. Their goal
was to register
blacks to vote.
More Overview…
Blacks had been kept from voting in the south, despite the passage of
the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 1870. Freedom Summer
marked the climax of an intensive voter-registration drive that has
started in 1961. The efforts were focused on Mississippi because of the
state’s poor voting record.
The Freedom Summer campaign was organized by a coalition called the
Mississippi Council of Federated Organizations, which was led by the
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and included the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),
and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
The organization of the Mississippi Freedom Party (MFDP) was
also a major focus of the campaign.
Overview continued…
Lack of equality in the educational system was also brought into focus during the
campaign with the organization of “Freedom Schools”. Many of the white
college students were assigned to teach in the schools, which later became
models for programs like Head Start.
Freedom Summer activists and volunteers faced threats and harassment
throughout the campaign. There were bombings, arrests, and other forms of
violence, but none more infamous as the murder of three young civil rights
workers; James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.
Despite the difficulties and violence faced during the campaign, there were
many positive outcomes. Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the
1965 Voting Rights Act. A new consciousness was instilled among many of
the African-Americans in the south, as well as a new confidence in political
action. Some say, Freedom Summer was one of the greatest things that ever
happened in Mississippi.
Freedom Summer: The Beginning
In the early 1960’s, Mississippi was the
poorest state in the nation. 86% of all
non-white families lived below the
poverty line. The state was notorious for a
poor voting record among blacks, as well
as numerous voting rights violations. In
the 1950’s, Mississippi was 45% black, yet
only 5% of voting age blacks were
registered to vote. Although black men
had been awarded the right to vote with
the passage of the 15th Amendment in
1870, they had been unable to exercise
that right in many places throughout the
south. White local and state officials
systematically kept blacks from voting
with the use of poll taxes and literacy
tests. Many resorted to basic forms of
intimidation, threats, and fear.
Freedom Summer: The Goal
In the late 1950’s, the NAACP went to Mississippi in an effort to register more blacks to vote.
Amzie Moore, a local NAACP leader in Mississippi, met with SNCC worker Robert Moses while
Moses was traveling through the state in July of 1960. Moore encouraged Moses to bring more
SNCC workers to the state, and help with the registration efforts. The following summer the SNCC
organized a month long registration education program in the town of McComb, teaching a weekly
class that showed people how to register.
SNCC worker Marion Barry arrived later in August, 1961 and started workshops to teach black
youth methods of protesting nonviolently. Many of the youth were too young to vote, but were eager
to join the movement. As they began to hold sit-ins, many were arrested and expelled from school.
In response to the expulsions, Moses started Nonviolent High School to teach the expelled students.
Moses and others were arrested and charged with “contributing to the delinquency of minors”.
In 1962 SNCC, CORE, SCLC and other groups got together to organize the Freedom Vote. They
were able to establish two main goals:
1. To show Mississippi whites and the nation that blacks wanted to vote, and
2. To give blacks, many of whom had never voted, practice in casting a ballot.
Freedom Summer: The Campaign
After the success of the Freedom Vote, SNCC decided to send volunteers to
Mississippi during the summer of 1964, which happened to be a presidential
election year. They were planning to implement a large voter registration drive,
which became known as Freedom Summer. Bob Moses, one of the organizers,
outlined the goals of Freedom Summer to prospective volunteers at Stanford
– 1.
to expand black voter registration in the state of Mississippi
– 2.
to organize a legally constituted “Freedom Democratic Party” that
would challenge the whites-only Mississippi Democratic Party.
– 3.
to establish “freedom schools” to teach reading and math to black
4. to open community centers where indigent blacks could obtain legal
medical assistance
Nearly 1,000 volunteers from all over the country arrived at Western
College for Women in Oxford, Ohio to begin training. The training
sessions included workshops on nonviolence and how to work with
children teaching them math, reading, and black history.
Groups Involved: CORE
The Congress of Racial Equality was
founded in 1942 as the Committee of Racial
Equality by an interracial group of students
in Chicago. The founders were deeply
influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings
of nonviolent resistance.
By the end of 1961, CORE had 53 affiliated
chapters, and remained active in southern
civil rights activities. In 1964, CORE
participated in the Mississippi Freedom
Summer project. 3 of their members,
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman,
and Michael Schwerner, were brutally
murdered that summer, resulting in an
infamous case.
For more information on CORE, go to
Groups Involved: NAACP
The National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People was
established in 1909. They are famous for
the many legal battles they have fought
against segregation and discrimination.
They were successful in desegregating
schools with the Brown vs. Board of
Education of Topeka case in 1954.
With the help of other civil rights groups,
they worked to end the political
disenfranchisement of African Americans
in the Deep South. They participated in
the Freedom Summer campaign, and
concentrated their efforts on Mississippi.
They were instrumental in establishing
Freedom Schools, and pressing for the
passage of the Voting Rights Act of
For more information on CORE, go to
Groups Involved: SNCC
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee was a political organization
formed in 1960 by black college students
dedicated to overturning segregation in the
South and giving young blacks a stronger
voice in the civil rights movement in the
United States.
In 1964 SNCC helped create Freedom
Summer, an effort to register blacks to vote
and focus national attention on Mississippi’s
racism. An estimated 600 young people,
many of them white college students,
volunteered to travel to the south to help
with the project. SNCC organizers recruited
teachers, clergy, artists, and lawyers to create
freedom schools and community centers
in a further effort to educate the black youth,
and mobilize black citizens.
For more information on CORE, go to
Groups Involved: SCLC
The Southern Christian Leadership
Conference was established in 1957, and
formed the backbone of the civil rights
movement during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Under the leadership of Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., black churches and
ministers joined together to help end
segregation and discrimination with the
use of nonviolent civil disobedience.
Their significance to the civil rights
movement centered on a series of highly
publicized protest campaigns in the early
SCLC volunteers helped with the
Freedom Summer campaign, and they
organized a march that created support for
the Voting Rights Act if 1965.
For more information on SCLC, go to
Freedom Schools
One of the goals of the Freedom
Summer campaign was to
establish “freedom schools” to
teach reading, math, and black
history to black children.
CORE, SNCC, and NAACP were
able to establish 30 Freedom
Schools in towns throughout
Mississippi. Volunteers from
the various groups were
recruited to teach in the schools,
and convey the nonviolent
message of the civil rights
Freedom Schools- violence
Freedom Schools were
often the target of
racism and violence.
The following poem was
written by Joyce Brown,
a 16 year old girl who
attended a Freedom
School in McComb,
Underground Education:
The COFO Freedom School
In a bombed house I have to teach my school
Because I believe all men should live
By the Golden Rule.
To a bombed house your children must come,
Because of your fear of a bomb,
And because you’ve let your fear conquer
your soul,
In this bombed house these minds I must try
to mould.
I must try to teach them to stand tall and be
a man,
When you’re their parents have cowered
Down and refused to take a stand.
Taken from the Bay Area Friends of SNCC Newsletter, January
Freedom Schools- purpose
The school project was proposed by
a Howard University student by the
name of Charles Cobb. His purpose
was “to create an educational
experience for students which will
make it possible for them to
challenge the myths of our society,
to perceive more clearly its realities,
and to find alternatives – ultimately
new directions for action.” Nearly a
year after the project was proposed,
there were 41 functioning schools in
20 communities in the state of
Mississippi with an enrollment of
2,135 students – nearly twice the
number they had expected.
Freedom Schools- education
The schools offered not only academic
courses, but an exposure to a totally new
field of learning for the black youth. They
were exposed to new attitudes, new
people, and a new use of their
imagination. The schools made the kids
feel as if they hadn’t been forgotten. The
schools were tailored to fit them, and
were able to inspire and create courage in
the face of oppression.
At the end of the Mississippi Freedom
Summer project, the Freedom Schools
continued. In several areas they were
running jointly with regular public school
sessions. The schools became an
instrumental aid in enabling students to
make a transition from a Mississippi
Negro high school to higher education.
Mississippi Freedom Democratic
The organization of the
Mississippi Freedom
Democratic Party (MFDP) was
a major focus of the summer
program. More than 80,000
Mississippians joined the new party,
which elected a group of 68
delegates to the national
Democratic Party convention, held
that year in Atlantic City Previous to
the formation of the MFDP, the
Democratic Party representing
Mississippi was all white. The
MFDP wanted to challenge the all
white delegation, and help integrate
the party and bring AfricanAmerican delegates to power.
MFDP- Fannie Lou Hamer
When the delegates arrived in Atlanta,
they were confronted by the white
delegates representing Mississippi, and
not allowed a seat. The confrontation
was taken to the credentials committee,
and televised on August 22. Mrs. Fannie
Lou Hamer represented the MFDP in the
hearing. Afraid America would hear her
speech, and side with the MFDP,
President Johnson asked for a televised
press conference in order to stop
coverage of the hearing. In the end, the
credentials committee ruled that the
MFDP would not be allowed to represent
Mississippi. In a last attempt to show
their presence, some MFDP delegates
tried to take the open seats left by white
delegates, but they were refused. Even
though the MFDP delegates were denied
a seat in the convention, the Democratic
Party was changed forever.
Despite the difficulties, violence
and problems, Freedom
Summer left a positive legacy.
The well published voter
registration drives brought
national attention to the subject
of black disenfranchisement,
and this eventually led to the
1964 Civil Rights Act and the
1965 Voting Rights Act,
federal legislation that outlawed
the tactics Southern states had
used to prevent blacks from
1964 Civil Rights Act
President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil
Rights Act in July of that year.
1. it gave federal government the right to
end segregation in the South
2. it prohibited segregation in public
3. an Equal Employment Commission was
4. federal funding would not be given to
segregated schools (note that these
had been banned in 1954, ten years
5. any company that wanted federal
business (the biggest spender of
money in American business) had to
have a pro-civil rights charter.
1965 Voting Rights Act
President Lyndon B. Johnson made
civil rights one of his top priorities.
President sent the Voting Rights Bill
to Congress, and it was signed into
law on August 6, 1965.
This empowered the federal
government to oversee voter
registration and elections in
counties that had tests to determine
voter eligibility or where
registration/turnout had been less
than 50% in the 1964 election.
The law banned discriminatory
literacy tests and expanded voting
rights for non-English speaking
Violence and Murder
During Freedom Summer 30
black homes and 37 black
churches were firebombed.
White mobs or racist police
beat over 80 civil rights
One of the most infamous
cases of violence that
occurred during Freedom
Summer was the murder of 3
volunteers. This tragedy,
which was intended to
discourage efforts, only
made the movement
Violence and Murder
On June 21, 1964 -Three
volunteers were asked to
investigate the site of a
church that had been burned
in Philadelphia.
The 3 men had been
arrested for speeding and
released from jail later that
evening. They disappeared
on their way home.
Their bodies were found on
August 4, all three had been
murdered – James Chaney
(African-American) had been
beaten before being
Violence and Murder
The FBI determined that the
civil rights workers had been
murdered as a result of a
conspiracy between
elements of Neshoba County
law enforcement and the Ku
Klux Klan.
The murders provoked
national outrage and led to
the first successful
prosecution of a civil rights
case in Mississippi.
Despite the tragedy,
volunteers pressed on with
their goal of registering black
The people involved
with Freedom Summer
and the Civil Rights
Movement faced great
hardship, but also
developed a great
sense of pride.
Many people risked and
lost their lives to help
fight for something they
believed in.
Think About It….
Knowing what they
went through, would
you have
volunteered to help
with Freedom
 Would be willing to
risk your life for a
cause you believe
Integration of Central High, 1957
Elizabeth Eckford, one of the
Little Rock Nine
Sit-in, Mississippi 1963
Freedom Rides
Birmingham, 1963
4 Little Girls, killed in church
bombing in Birmingham, AL