Freedom Summer
By: Melissa Timmermeyer

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Background Information:

Freedom Summer was the campaign that started in June of 1964 to get as many African Americans as possible to register to vote in Mississippi. At the start of 1964, many students and others began to register to vote, organizing local leadership, and integrating public accommodations. Along with thousands of black Mississippians was more than 1,000 out-of-state volunteer workers. Many of these people were white, from the north, and Jewish. Mississipi was chosen for this project because by the 1960's blacks in Mississippi had the lowest percentage of registered voters in the United States.


Key Players:
The "players" were the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), four established civil rights organizations which included: the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Out of these, SNCC played the lead role.
Voluenteers and members of these organizations wanted to encourage as many blacks as possible to vote and wanted to abolish the Jim Crow Laws.

Some "players" that opposed this movement were the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizen's Council.
People who supported the KKK and White Citizens Council wanted to prevent as many blacks from voting as possible and wanted to scare voluenteers off.



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James Chaney (a black Congress of Racial Equality member from Mississippi), Michael Schwerner (a member of Congress of Racial Equality ), and Andrew Goodman (a voulenteer for Freedom Summer) were arressed, tortured, and killed by the Ku Klux Klan. A year later seven men were convicted but none were in jail any longer than six years.


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The COFO, CORE, NAACP, SCLC, and SNCC:
When looked at in a short-term point of view, the Freedom Summer was not extremely affective because it failed to get many black voters to register. When looked at in a long term point of view, Freedom Summer played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement. It helped break down the Jim Crow Law system that was built throughout the decades. Before Freedom Summer had occured, the media played very little attention to the lack of registered black voters in Southern United States and the dangers that black civil rights workers faced.

The KKK definately succeeded in scaring black voters off.
Throughout this 10-week project they had:


  • 4 people seriously wounded
  • 3 civil rights workers killed
  • 30 black homes and/or businesses burned and/or bombed
  • 37 churches burned and/or bombed
  • 1000 people arrested
  • 80 workers beaten


Importance:
This event was extremely important to the Civil Rights Movement because not only were unregistered black voters encouraged to register, but the persecution of black voters in the south was brought to the attention of the media: which in turn brought attention all over the U.S. This movement also helped abolish the Jim Crow Laws. This helped push for further movement because not only did voluenteers come back to continue to fight for civil rights, but also the attention from the media encouraged viewers to help contribute to the movement.