Assignment Writing Help on The Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964

THE FREEDOM SUMMER IN MISSISSIPPI IN 1964

Introduction

Robert C Hargreaves contends that Mississippi was a segregated community from the start; he compares the things that were happening in this state to hell. He says that even the Red Cross kept separate bank bloods for the whites and blacks.[1] Gail Falk exemplifies how the situation in Mississippi was by contending that one could get shot because of voting.[2] Despite the challenges, the main aim of the volunteers was to educate and ultimately register the many African Americans who were being mistreated by a corrupt electoral system in Mississippi. This research paper will analyze the volunteer activities in Mississippi and determine to what extent they sought to change the lives of the Southerners and how they ended up changing their lives as well.

The summer of 1964 was unlike any other in the American History, the whole country reeled from the effects of the civil rights movement that had begun just a few short years before, but in Mississippi something radical was happening. Freedom summer that is also known as the Mississippi Summer Project was redefining what it meant for a movement to be organized from the ground up. Many students from well known, respected and prestigious colleges, as well as young people who felt the need to actively do something concerning the rampant racist that was still in the south ventured with the aim of solving some of the deep seated issues, they were known as volunteers.

Reasons for the formation of Freedom Summer of 1964

Many different forces shaped the preparation and outcome of the summer movement. Since reconstruction many African Americans were violently discriminated. The formation of every group or event is motivated by many factors, for the Freedom Summer of 1964; the main goal was to register the black people who were living in the South so that they could be given a chance to vote.[3]Volunteers for the exercise were thoroughly trained in Oxford, Ohio with an aim of registering potential voters, teaching in the freedom institutions and giving support to movement in all ways that they could. The volunteers were trained in the use of non violent mechanisms. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was composed of a group of black activists who had been fighting for equal rights for very many years, alongside the white volunteers who came from Oxford, Ohio, they started their mission together, registering voters and initiating support of the freedom schools that were in these areas.[4]

Participants

More than sixty thousand black people from Mississippi risked their lives to take part in the course. They did this through meetings, voting and freedom election. Several African Americans hosted the volunteers who had gone to Mississippi. Approximately 1,500 volunteers worked in the project offices that were located all over Mississippi.[5] They were under the leadership of 122 SNCC and the CORE paid staff workers. 254 of the volunteers came from the clergy and this made the struggle even more interesting, 169 were attorneys who had been recruited by the national lawyer’s guild, fifty were medical professionals.

In terms of the administration the whole project was manned by the council of the federate organizations (COFO). This was an umbrella group that had been formed not only for the purpose of the SNCC, but other parties that included the National Association for the advancement of the white People. The SNCC gave eighty percent of the total staff and funded for the project. The director of the summer project was Bob Moses and the assistant director was Dave Denis from Core. Robert Moses was the one who proposes the idea of the freedom summer to the SNCC and COFO leaders in the year 1963, in the year 1964 he was given a chance to lead the movement.

Major goals for freedom summer

The major goal of this movement was empowering the residents of Mississippi to take part in the elections. Its other part was to turn the attention of the country to what was happening in the South, some of the specific goals include;

  • Increase registration of voters
  • Create the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
  • Give Challenge to Democratic National Committee
  • Create Freedom Schools
  • Open community centers

This was characterized by immense struggles. SNCC knew the presence of white volunteers would create attention.[6] They had feared that the presence of their involvement in the struggle would involve the government; however, this would later serve to their advantages since it helped in carrying the message across the different agencies. The work the volunteers did was immensely challenged by the conservatives and this resulted in the death of three civil right workers; they were kidnapped and killed because of their work in the freedom summer movement.

Even with the passionate formation of the civil right bill passed in 1964, there was nothing done to assist the South. The white segregationist attitudes still persisted and there was little integration that was actually occurring. A majority of Mississippians were not willing to integrate.  Despite the fact that some of the business in the state integrated, the bill did little to alleviate poverty and powerlessness. While the civil rights was a step in the right direction, terror still reigned in the South and the black people were still impoverished and had no voice.[7] One of the most important realizations for the SNCC was that it needed to strike at the root of the problem. The blacks in Mississippi needed education and votes so that they could begin to march for equality. SNCC was determined to create local power for the bases of the Negroes and the impoverished people.

The Reign of terror in Mississippi

Today in the U.S, terrorism brings about images of the world trade centre collapse, Osama Bin laden and Saddam Hussein. Forty years ago, terror was common in the country. Images of terror included burned and bombed churches, bodies taken from the rivers and burning in front of the residential areas. The state of Mississippi was one hot spot, for the domestic terror.[8] The black members of the community were often harassed, they were intimidated and their rights were denied. Members of black community lived in a condition of oppression and fear, expecting complacency and things beyond this resulted in punishment.

The headlines in News papers evoked bloody images in people’s minds. The state of Mississippi was characterized by an old Southern tradition that was full of hate. The blacks did not have any political power and the men who were in power were closely linked with the notorious Ku Klux Klan.[9] When the SNCC and CORE organized the movement with the intent to register the black voters in this state with COFO, many of the whites did not agree to meet the volunteers with open arms, they feared that they would lose positions and privilege, for this reason, they planned to intimidate and harass the volunteers. The intimidation was characterized by increased police brutality, increased artillery and murder.

In 1962, blacks around the Washington areas had marched, their main aim was to become vocal in their fight for equality, many whites who lived in the South became vocal in their fight for equality, and they organized with the purpose of preserving the white race. In the state of Mississippi, the white supremacy organized eighty cross burnings in one single night. Bob Moses looked for a way that he could use to solve the problem of terror in Mississippi, they created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party, it was mostly for the Negroes but was open to people from the different races.

Their efforts of liberating blacks, made white Mississippians afraid of change the group was trying to do. The mayor of Jackson responded to the outcry of the white citizens by increasing the police force, they also increased the number of ammunition for the police. The state legislature also made a request to have the highway patrolled, and made it illegal to distribute flyers in the state. The State seemed to be prepared for war, despite the fact that the summer freedom volunteer advocated for a peaceful means to solve the crisis, the white anticipated a more violent and tumultuous summer.

The atmosphere in Mississippi was immensely tense; however, this did not discourage the volunteers even after the disappearance of three men. A number of volunteers remained determined in the course.[10] Despite the fact that the disappearance of the three men was supposed to warn people who were entering Mississippi, it motivated even more volunteers to join the course. The violence did not subside and during that summer, the whites burned down 35 churches, thirty homes and other buildings were also bombed, eighty people were beaten and thirty five people were shot at.[11]

Volunteers

When the practice of registering the black voters in the State of Mississippi began as an effort that was led by Bob Moses, SNCC and CORE realized that there was a need for more volunteers, so that the movement could be able to make a vital impact. The two groups went around many colleges scouting for the volunteers, young men and women who were willing to donate their summer for the purpose of fighting for the freedom. The freedom summer remains historically because it marked the first widespread entrance of the whites into the civil rights movement. Prior to the formation of the movement, the whites had been involved in other civil rights movement, however, this movement was the first of its kind in that it brought more than one thousand activists to fight for one single cause. The Volunteers that went to Mississippi during that summer were very young, they were energetic and optimistic. It is possible to make certain generalizations concerning the volunteers that were in Mississippi, some of them came from the families of the privileged, they were from families of the wealthy people, and they had known only few limits in their lives. Despite the status of their families and where they came from, there were immensely steadfast in their beliefs and were determined to make an impact in Mississippi during that summer.[12]

Compared to the civil moments of the late sixties, the volunteers at the summer movement were not radical in any way, they responded to the attacks by remaining as reformers rather than the revolutionaries. Murders of one black and two white men brought headlines sending the Mississippi terror screaming in the U.S. Status of volunteer families, together with size of this project helped to bring out a need for equality in Mississippi. For the first time in history, the injustices against the black people were broadcast into homes around the country; this gave motivation to the growth of a renewed and committed civil rights movement.

Commitment to nonviolence

At the training in Ohio, the volunteers agreed to carry out a policy of nonviolence, if they were beaten by the white Mississippians, they were supposed to protect themselves in all ways possible, they were not expected to fight back.[13] If they suffered arrest by state police, they were expected to go to police cells without arguing with police. The volunteers were taught on the best methods for response and what to say in case they got arrested. All of the volunteers were required to carry 500 in bail money in case they got arrested.

The training was meant to equip the volunteers and prepare them for the challenging times, it was apparent that they would face difficulties while working in Mississippi.[14] The training was also essential for training the volunteers on how to conduct themselves and how to avoid the possible violence.[15] The training also discussed on proper attire and about the rules of walking alone. For the purpose of safety, the white women were not supposed to walk together with the black men all of the volunteers were expected to sign out after they left the freedom house. To be ethical and show practicality all the volunteers were expected to heed to all the requirements of the course.

The training warned the volunteers of the dangers that lurked in the rural areas where they would be working, the small towns in Mississippi were controlled by the white supremacists and the police were often members in the KKK clan. James Forman, who was the executive director of SNCC, then gave a very strong warning to the volunteers. FBI also warned this group explaining, they would not be able to offer any protection.

Freedom summer Action

Volunteers spent much of their time in Holly Springs. The volunteers in Mississippi did not stay with the local families there; instead they stayed at a local black college. The volunteers always congregated in a hall, known as freedom house. The local black people helped the volunteers, amidst the risks that they were putting themselves in, they provided them with food and other basic necessities. The black community welcomed the volunteers openly and gave them support; much of the white community was not welcoming.

Many times, members got arrested; police did little to help them.[16] The freedom summer had many goals and objectives in its agenda, on a larger scale; the voter registration was seen as a way to give the black voters the political power that would make them have rights. By involving the white students as volunteers, this project was focused on creating awareness through media, giving specific attention to problems in the South. Registered voters from black community in Mississippi did not even reach five percent. In the 1964 presidential election in Marshall County, they were only 177 registered black voters, 7,168 were eligible.[17] Despite the fact that the summer volunteers were not successful in their move, they created awareness of the problems that were facing Mississippi.

Impacts of summer group

For the people who participated in the course, this began their life in activism. The movement not only individually inspired the volunteers, it had great effects on services, and this is because it was utilized as an organizational tool by the activists who had similar view and ideas. Activist became active in fighting for social justice plus equality. The significance of this movement can be found in the cultural and the political consequences that flowed from it, the summer events greatly radicalized the volunteers, while the ties that they established with the other volunteers created a nationwide activist network. Not only did that summer in Mississippi have lasting and powerful effects in the civil right movement, it gave growth to a generation that would be used to inspire the later movements of the 1960.[18] The spirit of the movement became part of the element of broader counter that came about in consequent years; it inspired other groups that wanted to utilise the nonviolent approach in fighting for rights.

Despite the fact that the primary aim of the summer movement was to register the black voters in Mississippi during that summer, the volunteers knew too well that that was a small portion of their presence in Mississippi during that summer. For a fact, big numbers of volunteers participating in the trip to Mississippi inspired black communities; they brought hope giving support to black communities around the region. By using the many freedom schools, the freedom clinics, freedom theatres and the other efforts gave them vitality and self worth. Many summer volunteers were dedicated to progressive political agenda. The summer volunteers were among the first to catch the political and the cultural wave of the sixties, it marked a time when the volunteers became more interested in changing the world.

Many white volunteers who participated in the in the struggle returned to their schools and homes ready to continue with the movement, they were willing to become even more engaged with the civil rights movement. The future legislators would be impacted by the large movement of the black people who now were willing to become more involved in politics and the act of voting. SNCC progressed with its work and other organizations supported it by getting people involved in the state of Mississippi.

Impacts of the men murdered, propelled civil rights groups. The coverage of the media generated by the murders of the three young men brought the truth about the civil rights in the South to the News papers and television all across the United States. Whites could no longer pretend ignorance in the occurrences that were taking place. By the time the summer was coming to an end, more blacks had been registered to vote in the state more than ever? The Mississippi Freedom Democratic party had challenged the whole system and the next year, the country passed the voting right acts of 1965

The movement of the young people in the freedom summer movement can be used as a model for the young adults in today’s generation. The movement challenges the young people to take action on the most important issues that affect their lives today. Researching in this movement can be a great motivator for many high school and college students to take part in voting and became conscious of the issues that surround them and affect their future. Utilizing the freedom movement to motivate students is one way of encouraging and advocating for a positive change in the world today.

Bibliography

Allen, C. P. (n.d.). Loneliness in the Circle of Trust. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/info/chudexp.htm

Cobb, C. (n.d.). Some Notes on Education. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Freedom Summer Articles by Movement Veterans: http://www.crmvet.org/info/msfshome.htm

Falk, G. (2013). Remembering Freedom Summer. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/nars/falk64.htm

Hargreaves, R. C. (2013). Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/nars/hargrear.htm

Mississippi Freedom Summer events. (n.d.). Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Freedom Summer Articles by Movement Veterans: http://www.crmvet.org/tim/tim64b.htm


[1] Hargreaves, R. C. (2013). Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/nars/hargrear.htm

[2] Falk, G. (2013). Remembering Freedom Summer. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/nars/falk64.htm

[3] Hargreaves, R. C. (2013). Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/nars/hargrear.htm

[4] Hargreaves, R. C. (2013). Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/nars/hargrear.htm

[5] Allen, C. P. (n.d.). Loneliness in the Circle of Trust. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/info/chudexp.htm

[6] Allen, C. P. (n.d.). Loneliness in the Circle of Trust. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/info/chudexp.htm

[7] Allen, C. P. (n.d.). Loneliness in the Circle of Trust. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/info/chudexp.htm

[8] Allen, C. P. (n.d.). Loneliness in the Circle of Trust. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/info/chudexp.htm

[9] Allen, C. P. (n.d.). Loneliness in the Circle of Trust. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/info/chudexp.htm

[10] Allen, C. P. (n.d.). Loneliness in the Circle of Trust. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/info/chudexp.htm

[11] Carson, C., & Bauerlein, M. (2003). Civil rights Chronicle: The African American Struggle For Freedom. New York: Legacy Publication.

[12] Carson, C., & Bauerlein, M. (2003). Civil rights Chronicle: The African American Struggle For Freedom. New York: Legacy Publication.

[13] Allen, C. P. (n.d.). Loneliness in the Circle of Trust. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Personal Memories of Freedom Summer: http://www.crmvet.org/info/chudexp.htm

[14]Cobb, C. (n.d.). Some Notes on Education. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Freedom Summer Articles by Movement Veterans: http://www.crmvet.org/info/msfshome.htm

[15] Cobb, C. (n.d.). Some Notes on Education. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Freedom Summer Articles by Movement Veterans: http://www.crmvet.org/info/msfshome.htm

[16] Mississippi Freedom Summer events. (n.d.). Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Freedom Summer Articles by Movement Veterans: http://www.crmvet.org/tim/tim64b.htm

[17] Cobb, C. (n.d.). Some Notes on Education. Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Freedom Summer Articles by Movement Veterans: http://www.crmvet.org/info/msfshome.htm

[18] Mississippi Freedom Summer events. (n.d.). Retrieved 4 6, 2015, from Freedom Summer Articles by Movement Veterans: http://www.crmvet.org/tim/tim64b.htm