Freedom Summer 60 – A Mississippi Department of Archives & History Project

Freedom Summer

Rumbling of a Mississippi StormLong after the Civil War and Reconstruction, Black Mississippians continued to face violent oppression daily. In response, the modern Civil Rights Movement was birthed in resistance to Jim Crow segregation and White supremacy. In 1964, a plan came together for a summer project that would help Black citizens in the state with the highest rate of race-based violence achieve a semblance of equality. The goals of the project were to increase voter registration of Black Mississippians, teach civil rights-focused lessons to Mississippi students, and draw national attention to the violent suppression tactics that activists faced.

The monumental Freedom Summer event saw volunteers from across the nation help Black Mississippians register to vote, provide quality education at Freedom Schools, and promote the efforts of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. These efforts not only aided Black residents in the state but also brought national attention to the struggle they faced in Mississippi.

Freedom Summer is a landmark American event of triumph and tragedy. The world became fully aware of what Black Mississippians were up against, from disenfranchisement to the constant fear of violence or even death. It also gave a platform and voice to many residents who became nationally prominent figures like Bob Moses and Fannie Lou Hamer. To understand America is to understand a place like Mississippi; to understand Mississippi, there are few greater events to study than 1964’s Freedom Summer.

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