Freedom School Legacy Lives On: From 1964 to 2004, Project Battles Racism with Education

By Jones, Arthur | National Catholic Reporter, July 30, 2004 | Go to article overview

Freedom School Legacy Lives On: From 1964 to 2004, Project Battles Racism with Education


Jones, Arthur, National Catholic Reporter


They were Freedom Schools. Forty-one schools across Mississippi meant equally to draw attention to racism in the Mississippi's education system, to further the voter education drives that had been a civil rights priority in the state for three years, and to educate the undereducated in what the civil rights movement was about.

It was summer, 1964.

There's a tendency, in the photographs of smiling faces then and now, to underestimate the tension and dangers of the times, the courage of the organizers, young teachers and students, more than 2,000 of them.

The 1,000 "student-teachers," mainly college-age white kids (though not exclusively so, there were many African-Americans, too) from Southern and Northern colleges were not do-gooders. This was a risky battle against a violent and entrenched hatred. There were church bombings, random and widespread beatings. More than 1,000 black and white volunteers and civil rights workers were arrested statewide.

Freedom Summer and the schools came out of a concerted effort by the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which came together that year with the Congress of Racial Equality and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the Mississippi Council of Federated Organizations Freedom Summer Campaign to push for more voter registration in the state that had the lowest percentage of registered voters in the country.

Staughton Lynd, Mississippi Freedom Schools director, later said the idea grew from Bob Moses of the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and others who set up voter registration schools in 1961, and "Nonviolent High," established for expelled black high schoolers. The first curriculum was devised in the Lynd's apartment on Spellman College campus in Atlanta.

Nonviolence was the intent, education was the means for Mississippi students trapped in poorly funded, badly supplied, inadequate buildings in a state with a huge racial divide.

Yet before the summer was over, three young civil rights workers were dead. Arrested on phony traffic violations as they went to Philadelphia, Miss., to investigate a church bombing, then released, the bodies of black volunteer James Chaney, and white coworkers Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were not discovered for six weeks. The whites were dead from gunshot wounds, Chaney had been beaten to death.

The murders, the schools, the three years of Mississippi voter registration and the invigorated media attention shifted a lackadaisical nation into one that began to understand and then press for what became the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Today's six Freedom Summer Schools--for the concept continues on in Mississippi and five other states this year--should be seen as living testimonials to a courageous generation.

The utility of the Freedom Summer School to those involved has not abated. Here are some of the voices from then and now.

John O'Neal, actor, playwright and artistic director of Junebug Productions, a traveling theater:

I was 23 during Freedom Summer. I felt like one of the youngest SNCC employees but was actually one of the oldest. I wondered about the people I worked with--how did they know so much about what they were doing? How could they be so bold? And bold they were. Our staff made $10 a week and hadn't been paid for three or four months. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Freedom School Legacy Lives On: From 1964 to 2004, Project Battles Racism with Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.