The following poem by Langston Hughes was originally titled "Refugee in America" and elicited many thoughts and questions in my heart and mind...
How easily we use the words freedom, liberty, and all men are created equal...how quickly we want to deport those seeking "our freedom"...do I really try to know my fellow man...how far have we truly advanced since Freedom Summer...
Words Like Freedom
There are words like Freedom
Sweet and wonderful to say.
On my heartstrings freedom sings
All day everyday.
There are words like Liberty
That almost make me cry.
If you had known what I know
You would know why.
The summer of 1964...the state of affairs had reached a boiling point in Mississippi (Medgar Evers assassination, hundreds of beatings, several murders, dozens of church/ home bombings, KKK intimidation, etc.) and across America. Blatant acts of injustice and violence, de jure and de facto segregation, white America "preserving their way of life", the nation still grieving a fallen president, and idealistic white Americans traveling to Mississippi (they focused on Mississippi because it had the lowest percentage of African-American registered voters-less the %7) all helped to provide an "amalgam for change".
Mississippi: Summer of '64...
- Early June- Over 1,000 out of state volunteers and thousands of native Mississippians begin orientation sessions for Freedom Summer activities...voter registration, Freedom Schools, health clinics, legal clinics, etc.
- June 21- James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Paul Goodman are murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi (the city of brotherly love?!?) while investigating a church arson fire and attempting to register African-American voters...this led to national and international outrage.
Dave Dennis-Listen to an excerpt of his stirring eulogy...
- CORE representative Dave Dennis delivers a powerful and challenging eulogy at James Chaney's funeral.
- Freedom Schools are established to provide lessons in Civics (The Constitution, Bill of Rights, Voting, etc.), Arithmetic, Reading Literacy, US History (with an emphasis on African-American History), and self-esteem...thousands attended!
- The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was organized to directly challenge the "KKK" Democratic Party...they were seeking representation at the Democratic National Convention.
Fannie Lou Hamer-listen to an excerpt of her testimony...
- August 22- Fannie Lou Hamer testifies at the Democratic National Convention...her live testimony was purposefully preempted by an "impromptu" LBJ press conference- believing that "that ignorant woman" was going to cost him the presidency.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted to protect the 14th and 15th Amendments...a dubious end of the Civil War?!?