For the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the expedition north to Oxford, Ohio, from Mississippi in June 1964 was a welcome, also life-saving, respite. Leading voter registration initiatives in Mississippi, these babsence men and also woguys challenged mortal hazards on a day-to-day basis. Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper, had been jailed and bconsumed relentlessly through a blackjack. One young man had bullet scars in his neck. A white man had attacked Robert Moses via a knife as he escorted three world to a county courthome to register. 

Oxford, once a station on the Underground Railroad, would aacquire add to the freedom battle. On a college campus, Hamer, Moses and other SNCC staff met thousands of college-age guys and womales that had volunteered for the Freedom Summer, an ambitious voter registration initiative focused in the Mississippi Delta, where just three percent of the black population (which was twice as big as the white population) could vote. One of the a lot of important civil legal rights initiatives of the 1960s, the Freedom Summer carried a reckoning on racial injustice for Mississippi and the country. Although the Freedom Summer did bit to dislodge white dominance in Mississippi in the short-lived, the initiative helped build support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, put even more push on the Democratic Party to face its component in protecting white dominance, and also injected radicalism into SNCC. Above all, the Freedom Summer proved a biracial coalition could concerned the Deep South and also face Amerideserve to racism in one of its strongholds.

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For the Freedom Summer to succeed, SNCC necessary aid. White assist. For 4 years, babsence civil legal rights activists in Mississippi had

been harassed, beaten, shot, and also imprisoned; and blacks that aided them had been fired from their tasks, evicted, arrested, beaten, and also eliminated. What for? Trying to exercise a best the Constitution entrusted Congress to protect. Yet for four years, the federal government had done almost nothing to safeguard SNCC employees and also black Mississippians. The Kennedy management appeared to hope Mississippi would discover a method to enfranchise blacks without federal intervention; President Lyndon Johnkid, determined to win passage of the Civil Rights Act in the summer of 1964, didn’t want SNCC or other civil rights establishments stirring up trouble, as he experienced it. Moses and also SNCC activists kbrand-new a surge of earswarm white volunteers from middle and also upper course backgrounds, a bulk of whom attfinished elite universities, would attract national media attention that would follow them southern, making it more tough for the federal federal government to pretfinish nopoint was happening. Moses made one more calculation, a grim one: violence against privileged young white males and woguys was far even more likely to carry federal protection than ongoing violence versus Afrideserve to Americans. Such treatment could ultimately lug the vital activity to force Mississippi to recognize babsence voting rights.

Not that SNCC wanted sacrificial lambs. As the volunteers poured into Oxford, SNCC carefully screened them. Glory-seekers were rejected; so too, anyone that appeared resistant to accepting instructions from an Afrideserve to Amerideserve to. Showing interest in interracial dating was an prompt disqualification. The volunteers learned the ABCs of safety, Mississippi-style. Never before take a trip alone. Never before stand also in a doorway through a light behind you. Don’t dare tell a state trooper, sheriff’s deputy, or police officer you have “legal rights.” When the beating begins, drop to the ground and curl right into a sphere. On June 20, the first team of 300 volunteers boarded boffers for the

journey south. One young male wrote to his mommy, “Mississippi is going to be hell this summer. We are going right into the very hard-core of segregation and also White Supremacy . . . It is difficult for you to imagine what we are going in to, as it is for me currently, however I’m beginning to view.” A Klansman in Mississippi agreed it would certainly be a hot summer: “But the ‘heat’ will be used to the race mixing trash by the decent civilization.” 

That danger of violence wasn’t idle. On June 21, Michael Schwerner, Anattracted Goodmale, and also James Chaney went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, to investigate the battle of a babsence church. They had actually strict instructions to leave tvery own no later on than 4 p.m. They never did. As anticipated, the reality that 2 of the missing men were white (Schwerner and Goodman; Chaney was black) prodded federal activity. President Johnson ordered the FBI to investigate. Before the bodies of the 3 men were uncovered in an earthen dam on August 4, searchers unextended the bodies of a number of murdered blacks, victims of the anti-civil rights violence that had actually long raged in the state. 

The murders cast a shadow over the Freedom Summer, as did continuing violence (almost 70 arsons and bombings) and also arrests (1,000), however SNCC pressed on. More than 700 volunteers concerned Mississippi. They assisted set up forty-one Freedom Schools attfinished by even more than 3,000 residents. The curriculum, supported by hundreds of donated books, contained mathematics, analysis, and also writing, also black background and also the civil civil liberties movement itself. The voter registration drives carried a record number of black occupants to county courthouses: 17,000. Although just 1,600 thrived in registering, both the institutions and also the registration initiatives lugged “moments of great interracial harmony,” as historian David Steigerwald has actually oboffered.

The Freedom Summer likewise led to the development of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). Moses led practically seventy

activists to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in August. Moses hoped to unseat Mississippi’s all-white delegation and replace it through residents who sustained the national Democratic party’s platform on civil rights. Liberals in the party managed to get the MFDP an appearance prior to the Credentials Committee. Fannie Lou Hamer’s speech was broadactors on live tv. An angry President Johnson dispatched Vice President Hubert Humphrey to strike a address the MFDP: they would get 2 at-huge seats on the floor. They refused. A hold of civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, urged the MFDP to accept the offer; still they shelp no. As Hamer put it, “We didn’t come all this means for no two seats!”

But the frustrations and also setbacks masked positive outcomes. The voter registration drives drew nationwide attention to Mississippi’s flaapprove neglect of the Constitution. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 consisted of particular provisions that demolimelted most of the approaches offered to rotate away babsence voters. Ten years after passage of the legislation, Mississippi, of all southerly says, had actually the best boost

in registered babsence voters. The Freedom Summer helped make that feasible. Although Lyndon Johnson had scored a tactical victory over the MFDP at the 1964 Convention, the Democratic Party continued to evolve toward a firmer commitment to civil legal rights. This, as well, the Freedom Summer helped make take place.



Civil Rights Movement Archive, Civil Rights Movement Documents: Freedom Summer (Mississippi Summer Project), 1964-1965,

 Lytle, Mark Hamilton. America’s Uncivil Wars: The Sixties Age from Elvis to the Fevery one of Richard Nixon. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. 152-63.

 Steigerwald, David. The Sixties and the End of Modern America. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. Pp. 55-60.

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 Watboy, Bruce. Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and also Made America a Democracy. New York: Viking, 2010.