Freedom Summer

The Backdrop for McComb, USA

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The Freedom Summer took place in Mississippi in the summer of 1964.  It was organized with the help of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and was directed by Robert Moses.  The main objectives of the Freedom Summer were to increase black voter registration in Mississippi, organize the Freedom Democratic Party to challenge the white-only Mississippi Democratic party, set up Freedom Schools, and open the community centers to blacks seeking medical and legal assistance. Over eight hundred volunteers went to Mississippi to work in the Summer's projects.

The civil rights struggle in Mississippi, 1960-1964

Before the Freedom Summer only 6.7% of Mississippi blacks who were old enough to vote were registered. This was 16.3% below the national average. The low voter registration was mostly due to whites in the state that devised scare tactics to discourage blacks from voting or devised tests that needed to be passed in order to vote. Many of these tests were literacy tests, which even if blacks passed, whites found some way to make the blacks fail. The Freedom Summer had a great impact on the black vote: by 1969, 66.5% were registered to vote, 5.5% above the national average.

Responses of the Mississippi Legislature to Freedom Summer

There was great hardship during the summer, but there were also successes. As a result of the Freedom Summer, the percentage of black voters increased, and students who attended the Freedom Schools showed greater confidence in themselves. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party ensured that there would never be a completely white delegation again, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed procedures that prevented blacks from voting, soon passed.