Event Title

How the Freedom Summer Students Changed the United States

Presenter Information

Bruce Watson, Journalist and Author

Location

Multicultural Center, Hardge Forum (Rm. 101)

Start Date

29-9-2014 1:00 PM

End Date

29-9-2014 1:50 PM

Description

Bruce Watson, Independent Journalist. The author of Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy (2013) provides rich historical and cultural context for the efforts of the white ruling class to maintain systematic white privilege over blacks during Freedom Summer in Mississippi. In 1963, the nation was still recovering from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, while African‐Americans were still experiencing additional shock waves from the assassination of Medgar Evers, Mississippi’s most influential homegrown civil rights leader, and the Birmingham church bombings that four young black girls. The pall which hung over the nation was momentarily dissipated by the March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King’s powerful I Have a Dream speech, and the 300,000 people who attended. James Meredith had launched his campaign to desegregate the University of Mississippi. Even outside the South, government rarely included blacks. The vast majority of homes rarely saw African‐Americans in other than demeaning roles on television and film. In Mississippi, Governor Ross Barnett blasphemed that God was the original designer of racial segregation. Between 1957 and 1971, whites conspired to create the dastardly Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, whose hired spies and informers secretly compiled dossiers on 250 organizations and 10,000 individuals in the campaign to preserve segregation. Black sharecroppers, earning 43 a day for picking cotton, were subject to a totalitarian economic system that could arbitrarily deny credit or exert unchecked violence for the most flimsy reasons. As the movement entered 1964, the U. S. Congress was gridlocked in what was the longest filibuster in history, opposing the passage of the Civil Rights Act. With the “invasion” of Mississippi by students from the predominantly white colleges came the attention of national news media. Harry Belafonte, Shirley MacLaine, Sidney Poitier, and Pete Seeger came, too, lending their “Hollywood” aura to the movement. The Freedom Summer Project eroded the myth of invincibility around racial segregation.

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Sep 29th, 1:00 PM Sep 29th, 1:50 PM

How the Freedom Summer Students Changed the United States

Multicultural Center, Hardge Forum (Rm. 101)

Bruce Watson, Independent Journalist. The author of Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy (2013) provides rich historical and cultural context for the efforts of the white ruling class to maintain systematic white privilege over blacks during Freedom Summer in Mississippi. In 1963, the nation was still recovering from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, while African‐Americans were still experiencing additional shock waves from the assassination of Medgar Evers, Mississippi’s most influential homegrown civil rights leader, and the Birmingham church bombings that four young black girls. The pall which hung over the nation was momentarily dissipated by the March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King’s powerful I Have a Dream speech, and the 300,000 people who attended. James Meredith had launched his campaign to desegregate the University of Mississippi. Even outside the South, government rarely included blacks. The vast majority of homes rarely saw African‐Americans in other than demeaning roles on television and film. In Mississippi, Governor Ross Barnett blasphemed that God was the original designer of racial segregation. Between 1957 and 1971, whites conspired to create the dastardly Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, whose hired spies and informers secretly compiled dossiers on 250 organizations and 10,000 individuals in the campaign to preserve segregation. Black sharecroppers, earning 43 a day for picking cotton, were subject to a totalitarian economic system that could arbitrarily deny credit or exert unchecked violence for the most flimsy reasons. As the movement entered 1964, the U. S. Congress was gridlocked in what was the longest filibuster in history, opposing the passage of the Civil Rights Act. With the “invasion” of Mississippi by students from the predominantly white colleges came the attention of national news media. Harry Belafonte, Shirley MacLaine, Sidney Poitier, and Pete Seeger came, too, lending their “Hollywood” aura to the movement. The Freedom Summer Project eroded the myth of invincibility around racial segregation.