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Freedom Summer

By the mid twentieth century, Mississippi’s African Americans had suffered from nearly 75 years of Jim Crow discrimination. In order to break open the closed society and improve their lives, they needed to be able to vote. In the summer of 1964, hundreds of young white volunteers converged in Mississippi for a 10-week voter registration campaign. The results of their efforts still reverberate.

MPB’s Freedom Summer series and documentary are part of a partnership with the Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC). The program is financially assisted by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the MHC.

On Aug. 21, MPB will culminate its Freedom Summer commemoration with the original documentary “1964: The Fight for a Right,” airing at 7 p.m. on MPB TV.

The series features interviews with individuals who were active in civil rights work that summer. The one-minute PSAs cover topics from the African-Americans struggle to register to vote, to the idea for and organization of the Freedom Summer, to the Mississippi Freedom Democrat Party’s challenge in Atlantic City.

Hollis Watkins of Jackson, Mississippi, who helped organize Freedom Summer, remembers warning the young summer volunteers at their training session in Ohio. “If you’re coming to Mississippi, you must know that you should be prepared to be beaten, to go to jail, and to be killed.”

“This series will reacquaint older Mississippians with their history and simultaneously inform younger Mississippians with stories they may not know,” said Edie Greene, MPB producer of the PSA series. “Since I’m not from Mississippi, I didn’t study its history in school. This has been an amazing story to learn. I am honored to be the producer.”

Please let us know if the interstitials were of value to you by taking a brief questionnaire. 

  • Air date 8/25/14
    Episode #
    Web exclusives from MPB's latest documentary, 1964: The Fight for a Right.
  • Air date 08/21/14
    Episode #
    In 1964, Black Mississippians had to fight - often at great personal cost - for the right to vote.
  • Air date 08/06/14
    Episode #44
    In 1964, the entire Mississippi state legislature was white, male—and Democrat.
  • Air date 08/05/14
    Episode #43
    With its incredible power to bond and to move people, singing was a vital force in Freedom Summer.
  • Air date 08/04/14
    Episode #42
    In addition to registering voters, Freedom Summer volunteers also set up schools.
  • Air date 8/1/14
    Episode #41
    When the Medical Committee for Human Rights personnel arrived in Mississippi, they were exposed to new kinds of problems.
  • Air date 7/31/14
    Episode #40
    In 1964, only a handful of black physicians practiced in Mississippi.
  • Air date 07/30/14
    Episode #39
    Freedom Summer organizers wanted to identify the many other areas that needed attention.
  • Air date 07/29/14
    Episode #38
    Hollis Watkins credits his father for the courage to put his life on the line in order to register voters.

Can you finish the literacy test required of Black Mississippians in 1964?

The following test was administered by local officials across the state as Black Mississippians tried to register to vote. Would YOU be able to register to vote in 1964?

 

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