Freedom Summer Facts

Freedom Summer Facts
When Reconstruction ended in 1877, blacks were increasingly disenfranchised throughout the south, particularly in the deep south states such as Mississippi. Poll taxes kept many poor blacks from being able to register to vote and intimidation and threats often kept those who could vote from doing so. The result was that by the early 1960s only about five percent of eligible black voters were registered to vote, which a stark contrast to the fact that blacks made up over thirty percent of the state's population. Beginning in the early 1960s, many civil rights organizations, including 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), targeted the state of Mississippi with massive black voter registration drives in the summer of 1964, which was termed the "Freedom Summer" or "Mississippi Summer Project." Although the efforts led to more blacks being registered to vote, the numbers were somewhat negligible. The real influence of the Freedom Summer came with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Interesting Freedom Summer Facts:
Robert Moses, the Mississippi field director of SNCC, provide much of the early leadership and organizational effort for the Freedom Summer.
More than 1,000 out-of-state volunteers came to Mississippi to participate in the Freedom Summer
Most of the non-Mississippi were northern whites, many of whom were also Jewish.
Since the state government was decidedly against the Freedom Summer and most white Mississippians were as well, or afraid to publicly side with the activists, the organizers usually operated out of black churches.
Activists also established "Freedom Schools" during the Freedom Summer in black churches and in the homes of notable black citizens.
Much of the anti-Freedom Summer legal efforts were funded by the White Citizens Councils, while the illegal and often violent anti-Freedom Summer activities being promoted by the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Scores of Freedom Summer activists were beaten, dozens of churches were bombed and burned, and four activists were murdered.
The most famous case of anti-Freedom Summer violence was the murders of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney in Neshoba County.
The abduction and murders of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney brought an FBI investigation into Mississippi and a heavy federal presences, which helped to alleviate much of the anti-activist violence.
Other blacks were believed to have been murdered by the Klan during the Freedom Summer
Despite often being opposed to the many civil rights activists, F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover supported Attorney General Robert Kennedy's decision to inundate Mississippi with F.B.I. agents.
After the Freedom Summer, some civil rights groups, such as the SNCC, took a more militant tone.
Due to actions during the Freedom Summer, namely the murders of the three activists, the F.B.I. took a more active role in prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan, even targeting it with the COINTELPRO program it used against the Black Panthers.
The leader of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at the time, Samuel Bowers, was convicted of an unrelated but civil rights era murder and died in prison for that crime in 2006.

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