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summary Freedom Summer

A riveting account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history In his critically acclaimed history Freedom Summer award winning author Bruce Watson presents powerful testimony about a crucial episode in the American civil rights movement During the sweltering summer. Summer of 1964 I was sitting in my diapers sniffing the Topanga Canyon breezes and watching the snakes and tarantulas go by so I think I can be forgiven for not knowing what was going on in Mississippi If you ve seen the 1988 film Mississippi Burning you know about the three young men two white and one black who disappeared on the first night of Freedom Summer This book tells the rest of the story Hundreds of brave and idealistic college age kids left their safe white enclaves all over the country to converge on Mississippi They hoped to register black voters many of whom were not even aware they had the right to vote They also taught in Freedom Schools where black children could come and get a taste of what it was like to get excited about learning and be treated with the dignity they weren t allowed in the public schools These volunteers risked everything including their lives Mississippi wasn t just another state back then it was another country There was no real law there and it was a violent and dangerous place Four volunteers lost their lives and many others were beaten bombed threatened jailed and humiliated It took a long time for the seeds they sowed to bear fruit but when we elected a bi racial president 44 years later many of them felt like they d had a part in making that possible

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Freedom Summer

Of 1964 than seven hundred American college students descended upon segregated reactionary Mississippi to register black voters and educate black children On the night of their arrival the worst fears of a race torn nation were realized when three young men disappeared thought to h. Freedom Summer The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy or Freedom Summer is a nonfiction history written in 2010 by the journalist Bruce Watson The events that take place within Freedom Summer revolve around the civil rights movement fostered by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or SNCC pronounced Snick that occurred in the summer of 1964 across Mississippi Facts uotes and events recorded by Watson are derived from other historical books such as Letters from Mississippi by Elizabeth Martinez as well as by the interviewing of key individuals in the movement such as Chris Williams Muriel Tilinghast Fran O Brian Fred Bright Winn and over one thousand Freedom Summer attempts to bring light to a portion of history within the United States that is normally slid under the rug briefly discussed or often ignored completely in order to better honor individuals that risked their lives for progressive reform within America that has ultimately affected the politics of this country even to this date Freedom Summer is divided into portions or books with the first being Crossroads followed by A Bloody Peace Written in the Sky and finally concluded with the Epilogue Crossroads which includes the Prologue describes the forming of SNCC the state of the Union before 1964 with a brief history of regression back to a time before Civil Reform after the Reconstruction and the purpose of SNCC as well as other key organizations involved with the Freedom Summer movement Crossroads shows SNCC volunteers being trained deployed to Mississippi being attacked and murdered in the case of Andrew Goodman James Chaney and Michael Schwerner the governments position on the movement as well as their inactivity in the case of broken federal laws or the enforcement of any and finally Crossroads discusses SNCC s purpose over the summer of integrating the most racist city in the south making blacks feel like humans educating them with Freedom Schools and registering them as voters The second section of Freedom Summer A Bloody Peace Written in the Sky concludes the progress set up in the first section Schwerners Goodmans and Chaneys remains are finally found with some of the men being involved in the murder being arrested at the close of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty first centuries blacks are registered across Mississippi and form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party MFDP violence continues to run rampant across the state but change is being made Freedom Schools educate enthusiastic children and adults eager to learn and the MFDP makes its way towards Washington to make a difference on the national scale in its pursuit of becoming a legal party in Mississippi In the second book of Freedom Summer the summer draws to a close volunteers return home or stay on and many leave feeling unaccomplished as the MFDP fail due to politics but time passes generations and change is finally made in Mississippi even if it is forced upon the state The Epilogue concludes Freedom Summer with many important facts It includes the arrests of key individuals that hindered civil rights within Mississippi the progress made across Mississippi as President Johnson s new legislation as well as those after him forces Mississippi to finally comply with the civil rights laws blacks are elected to offices across the state key KKK members are finally put to justice and Freedom Summer comes full circle as the stories of key volunteers come to a close and Barrack Obama is elected President of the United States bringing purpose to all of the effort Watson wanted to achieve many things with Freedom Summer but a recurring element throughout the book was the idea that it was possible to make a difference in the toughest place in America with the toughest ideals since the founding of the nation Despite what the rest of the country believed these volunteers from Ivy League schools really did make a difference if not initially through legislation then by making Mississippi blacks feel human The goal of the SNCC volunteers in a broad sense was to get voter registration in order to create the MFDP and challenge Mississippi s current leading party but they were also trying to do than that Volunteers were trying to show blacks and whites that there was no difference between the two and that blacks were humans with the same right to respect love and friendship as anyone else To succeed in these goals volunteers built Freedom School to educate blacks on black history and give them a chance to ask uestions receive real answers and feel a part of the learning process and to open their minds Volunteers lived in integrated homes with black hosts and spoke to blacks with respect and just as they would a white person and by doing these things they showed the black population that they were indeed human and not worthless In order to gain votes and increase voter registration volunteers canvassed across town held voter registration classes and informed and persuaded blacks how to and why voting was important Although the movements leader Bob Moses felt otherwise and only received a little over 60000 votes instead of his intended 400000 the MFDP was formed tens of thousands of blacks became registered voters the atrocities of Mississippi were publicized across the nation and world and the national government was forced to intervene so yes Freedom Summer was successful The only proof needed to see this is the fact that blacks serve in office in Mississippi than any other state and the fact that Barrack Obama was elected president It is very easy to see that the nation was changed dramatically as result of Freedom Summer From people s reactions to the racism still strong in the South to the many legislative acts passed because of the summer of 1964 America changed after Freedom Summer for the better Freedom Summer did than just expand the civil rights movement however as gender soon became an issue as well Gender roles were places in the placement of assignments within SNCC offices with many women being placed in typewriting secretary teacher and other commonly woman roles while being denied other roles during the summer The paper Women in the Movement was published due to these decisions to deny women top decision making roles which didn t cause an initial reaction but in time it would lead to a new civil rights movement Another paper Sex and Caste A Kind of Memo written by Casey Hayden and Mary King also touches on the topic of woman s rights and as the paper was written with their time as SNCC volunteers this memo correlates directly with the civil rights movement happening between the races in Freedom Summer Hayden and King claim the treatment of woman and even the response when confronted about the issue is nearly identical to that of white and black segregation As whites seem to believe themselves superior to blacks and think that s the way it s supposed to be men both white and black respond in the same way to woman about their position Hayden and King state the treatment is similar to a caste system and in The Trouble Between Us by Winifred Breines the same problems are stated The division lies even than just beyond sex as stated in the paper and differences between the treatment of black women and white women were different as well It is very apparent that although the issues of race were being addressed it would take another movement to address the faults between gender The Trouble Between Us goes even further in its accusations than the feminist movement and claims the notion that the history of the civil rights movement is something that happens when White Folks show up and stops when they leave The paper continues to address how the publicity of Freedom Summer downplays the importance and impact of the local black movements that were occurring before 1964 For this reason among others The Trouble Between Us is critical of Freedom Summer and rightly so With divisions among SNCC in leadership race and gender issues within the group and the resentment that groups of volunteers felt towards other over or under privileged volunteers greatly hindered the movement and proved that SNCC was not a flawless movement nor was Freedom Summer SNCC was a very flawed group that came together under strange and unorganized times and was never truly cohesive with groups forming throughout the group wanting to isolate themselves from other groups until SNCC s disbandment But despite all of its flaws and denial of woman s rights Freedom Summer was still effective and necessary in its goals to integrate educate and uplift the South from racial tensions and division Mississippi is a peculiar state given the circumstances When many states were progressing in civil rights Mississippi was moving backwards if at all and the violent resistance to integration showed the strong historical ties the state holds Relying on age old grudges dating to pre Civil war era s and the damage done to the state due to Reconstruction the state was truly brainwashed by their own ideas that blacks were inferior and happy about it Mississippi is a good example as Germany was after World War I of how destroying a state beyond repair and crippling its economy over certain ideals will only create grudges and instill those ideals strongly into those who failed to keep them Freedom Summer was an extremely enlightening book just as Hiroshima was It is easy to think of a movement event or period as a whole and forget about the individuals the days or the delay of progress Freedom Summer helps remind one to not forget about the individuals like Schwerner Chaney and Goodman but also the work and stories of less prominent figures like Chris Williams and Muriel Tilinghast who sacrificed their summer for a movement they believed was important Freedom Summer reminds you of the kids in college who came to the South knowing they would be beaten abused shot at and maybe even murdered but came anyways because they believed in something Bruce Watson has compiled a wonderfully descriptive book which helps to highlight these sacrifices made for the movement that changed America There are times in ones life such as during the election of Obama when one can ponder why individuals would vote for a man simply for the color of his skin and then there are books like Freedom Summer that shed light on why something like that is so important The idea that a black man could become president was inconceivable just a few years ago and yet today that is fact Some SNCC volunteers left Freedom Summer feeling unaccomplished after having the MFDP rejected at the Democratic Convention but progress was made so evident just by the fact that Obama could be president Bruce Watson highlighted the goals of SNCC and even if the volunteers who made it happen didn t believe it Watson shows how looking back now reveals the evident changes that occurred because a bunch of college students wanted to go to Mississippi for the summer Was SNCC flawless No but neither is any organization There were social issues rampant throughout the program Women were denied executive positions blacks and whites resented one another and at a time when people were trying to prove integration was necessary interracial sex was taboo but the program continued Bombs destroyed homes churches and offices people were thrown in prison and lawlessness ran wild but SNCC continued receiving thousands of dollars of donation to combat the bills volunteers swarmed areas to rebuild homes and hope and Freedom Summer continued on That is the message from the book Despite everything that was happening bombs bullets beatings government negligence and even the thought that they weren t making a difference volunteers stayed on Why Because they saw what would happen if they didn t They saw the lives of those they had effected and knew what was waiting for them if people stopped believing in them and went back to their carefree lives They stayed on because they had no choice and because just talking to another human being as a person with his or her own ideas could change years of oppression Bruce Watson compiled stories articles and events News organizations covered murders and trials Freedom Summer changed lives

Bruce Watson ✓ 0 review

Ave been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan Taking readers into the heart of these remarkable months Freedom Summer shines new light on a critical moment of nascent change in AmericaRecreates the texture of that terrible yet rewarding summer with impressive verisimilitude Washington Post. Despite having already read a number of books about the degradations that the South and Mississippi in particular have inflicted upon the blacks after the Civil War I was terribly moved by this book In essence this book is about the summer of 1964 in which great efforts were made to allow the blacks of Mississippi to have the same rights of citizenship that white people enjoyed Rights that one would have thought they had obtained after being freed as slaves a century earlier I could talk at length about this book s contents but I ll limit it to just three of many reactions I had while reading it First the dynamics of the situation that this book covers are well related to that of the American troops that served in occupied Ira constantly dealing with the dangers of the insurgency Unfortunately for the freedom volunteers in Mississippi they had similar dangers but without all the weapons and body armor to protect them Second there is a dramatic element to the author s writing that at first bothered me This is a history and historians don t embellish the facts But then it occurred to me if one person is beaten to a pulp shot dead and chopped into pieces because another person regards the first person as no better than a mongrel dog does it really step over the line if the writer goes a step further and points out that this might be a bad thing And third I don t recall ever reading another book in which each time I picked it up to start reading further I found myself uickly awash in thoughts about a myriad of issues related to the story and my relationship to those issues It was like an internal book club discussion being reconvened every new time I started reading I had to stop myself and just read And as compelling as my inner thoughts were the new sections I would be reading were always even compelling Finally even though the book ends with better news about the subseuent state of race relations in Mississippi it was the day before I finished the book that CNN had a new story about black victims of hit and run accidents by whites and of incidents that the white authorities failed to investigate for over three years until CNN started pushing the matter The reaction from one of the county sheriffs could have been word for word from the sheriffs that abused the freedom volunteers so badly back in 1964

10 thoughts on “Freedom Summer

  1. says:

    At book club a friend of mine told a story He's a teacher and he works in a very diverse school He's white but he's very sensitive to the racial dynamics currently at play in The United States Trayvon Martin Michael Brown Eric GarnerHe asked a colleague of his a black teacher born in Mississippi in the early 60s what she thought about what's happeningHe said Do you feel like 'Oh no Here we go again'Her respons

  2. says:

    This descriptive detailed history makes for difficult reading at times I grew up in the segregated South and remember when the three civil rights workers disappeared Thank goodness things have changed with a long way to go At any rate I learned uite a lot from reading Freedom Summer

  3. says:

    Summer of 1964 I was sitting in my diapers sniffing the Topanga Canyon breezes and watching the snakes and tarantulas go by so I think I can be forgiven for not knowing what was going on in Mississippi If you've seen the 1988 film Mississippi Burning you know about the three young men two white and one black who disappeared on the first night of Freedom Summer This book tells the rest of the story Hundreds of brave and

  4. says:

    I remember the summer of 1964 very well I watched most of it on the TV evening news where I gathered with fellow Peace Corps trainees in the evenings at Indiana University and for two weeks at Indiana State in Terra Haute We

  5. says:

    Freedom Summer The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy or Freedom Summer is a nonf

  6. says:

    Usually a history book is NOT what I would pick up but after trying civil disobedience this summer and finding parallels with the civil rights era I wanted to learn I found this book riveting as well as thoroughly well researched and peppered

  7. says:

    This book was an eye opener I was vaguely aware that the South during the Jim Crow era was a festering hellhole; but I was shocked by the degree of brutality described in this book But while I was nauseated by the descriptions of racial hatred and violence I was left in awe of the individuals who at great peril to their lives traveled to Mississippi to advance the cause of civil rights for Black Americans This is the

  8. says:

    Despite having already read a number of books about the degradations that the South and Mississippi in particular have inflicted upon the blacks after the Civil War I was terribly moved by this book In essence this

  9. says:

    Freedom Summer tells the story of Mississippi during the summer of 1964 when hundreds of college students from across the US traveled to Mississippi to open Freedom Schools run voter registration drives and educat

  10. says:

    Ask just about anyone on the street about