A folk singer. A photographer. A future politician. They all went to Mississippi for different reasons—some were already there. But they all had a common goal: to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in what was one of the nation's most racist and segregated states. Fifty years later, American Experience filmmakers revisited those who were there. Explore their stories in this collection of videos.
Barney Frank - "The Politician"
Long before he became a Congressman from Massachusetts, Barney Frank volunteered for the Freedom Summer project in 1964. As a teenager in New Jersey, Frank had been deeply affected by the murder of Emmett Till, and Frank became aware of how ingrained racism was in society. He went to Mississippi because he "couldn't justify not going."
Julius Lester - "The Folk Singer"
Julius Lester was teaching guitar and performing as a folk singer in New York City when he decided to go to Mississippi during Freedom Summer. Lester tells of his role in energizing the people gathered at those meetings and setting the stage for the organizers who called the crowds to action. He also reflects on the ever-present danger for participants. Freedom Summer premiers June 24, 2014.
Roscoe Jones - "The Preservationist"
Having worked to integrate lunch counters and the public library, Roscoe Jones stood ready to go to work when Freedom Summer volunteers arrived in Meridian, MS. He was at the office for the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), when word arrived that Cheney, Goodman, and Schwerner had gone missing. Today, he hopes to preserve buildings in Meridian that tell the story of the movement. "Freedom Summer" premiers June 24, 2014.
Herbert Randall - "The Photographer"
Herbert Randall was a 28-year-old professional photographer when he recruited to go to Hattiesburg, MS to document Freedom Summer. He saw firsthand the danger the Freedom Summer volunteers were in, and felt compelled to share those images with the world. His work is chronicled in a book called "Faces of Freedom Summer". He says there will always be a need for the struggle to be documented. "Freedom Summer" premiers June 24, 2014.
Mark Levy - "The Teacher"
Upon arrival at Antioch University in 1957, Mark Levy quickly became involved in the civil rights movement, and later at Queens College he met Freedom Summer organizers, who recruited Levy and his wife to head up one of the Freedom Schools in Meridian, MS. Levy's photos of that summer seeded a large collection at Queens College, where he is also committed to sharing the story of Freedom Summer. "Freedom Summer" premieres June 24, 2014.
Charles McLaurin - "The Foot Soldier"
In the summer of 1964, Charles McLaurin led a group of Freedom Summer volunteers in an effort to register voters in rural Mississippi. In 2014, he journeyed back to the small towns he worked in that summer, recounting how infiltrating the small town of Drew, Mississippi landed him and others in a small country jail and the ways in which Fannie Lou Hamer inspired the volunteers. Freedom Summer premieres June 24, 2014.
Daisy Harris Wade - "The Voter"
In 1964 Daisy Harris Wade not only took to the picket lines to protest the exclusion of blacks from the voting rolls, she also opened her home to volunteers who came to Mississippi that summer. Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and the mother of two young sons, Wade was determined to secure the right to vote not only for herself, but for generations to come. "Freedom Summer" premieres June 24, 2014.
Dorie Ladner - "The Activist"
Inspired by the work of Medgar Evers, Dorie Ladner has dedicated much of her life to the work of the civil rights movement. Deeply affected by the murder of Evers as well as the four little girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Ladner welcomed the help and the attention that Freedom Summer volunteers brought to Mississippi in 1964. "Freedom Summer" premieres June 24, 2014 on PBS.
John Howell - "The Publisher"
John Howell is the publisher of the "The Panolian," the local paper of Panola County, MS. His father was the publisher during Freedom Summer in 1964. Howell reflects on the little coverage given to the events of the civil rights movement, and the publishing of names of those who registered to vote. He also talks about the evolution of the paper and his own views.
Anita Walton Moore - "The Librarian"
The first black woman to earn a masters degree in library science from the University of Mississippi, Anita Walton Moore went on to become the head librarian at Rust College, the oldest Historically Black College in Mississippi. There, she has worked to preserve books and documents from 1964's Freedom Summer.