This Little Light – Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964

This Little Light

 

 

  • Part 3 – Harmony. An oasis in Negro Mississippi. It  had been a self sufficient African American Community for a hundred years.    Five square miles of Black owned land purchased after the civil war.  Harmony had the first school for ex-slaves in Mississippi.  But since 1954, their school has been under attack by the state,

 

  • This Little Light Part 4 – The Invasion.   Almost a thousand young people from across the United States came to Mississippi in the summer of 1964.  Before most arrived, three civil rights workers disappeared in Philadelphia, Mississippi. It would be a tough summer. Governor Ross Bernett warned, we “have been witnessing communist front organizations, demonstrators, sit in strikers, hoodlums and left wingers, freedom riders and such groups as that. Well thank God most of them go to jail when they come to Jackson.”

 

 

  • This Litle Light 6 – The Shaw Boycott. Freedom school training paid off that summer, when students in Shaw staged a school boycott after officials wouldn’t allow them to eat with the white volunteers. The demands escalated; lockers for the football team, lights for the playing fields; new textbooks instead of hand me downs from the white schools; more books in the library.

 

  • This Little Light Part 7 – No Right to Vote. African Americans had not taken part in the political processes of Mississippi since the breakdown of reconstruction in 1877.  The stakes were high.  You’ll hear explanations of why the right to vote is so important and moving stories about the things that have been done to keep African American’s from voting. 

 

  • This Little Light Part 8 – Freedom Democratic Party.   Voter registration was the most important Freedom Summer activity. Success varied. Where SNCC had been working for several years, people signed up immediately. Elsewhere people were reluctant to register.  Follow some of the four hundred civil rights workers who created a new political party and listen to a state convention where Mississippi African Americans participate in democratic practices for the first time in a hundred years.

 

  • This Little Light Part 9 – The Two Conventions.  The Freedom Democratic Party and the regular Democratic Party both held conventions in the summer of 1964, to select candidates to attend National Democratic Convention scheduled for Atlantic City.  The regular party met in the new Jackson Coloseum, scarcely a third full with about 1000 white delegates and national media observers, and listened to an invocation that proclaimed “the segregation way is the Christian way.”  The Freedom Democratic Party met in the Masonic hall, about 200 largely African Americans, insisting on equality.  

 

  • This Little Light Part 10 – The Challenge. For a day or two at least, the challenge of the Mississippi Democratic Party to Lyndon’s Johnson’s carefully orchestrated convention, threatened to split it wide open.

 

  • This Little Light Part 11 – End of the Summer.  We’ve been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people who have never been reached before, and give them a sense of belonging to something that gives them some measure of protection,” Donna Moses said.  Bob Moses said it gave the whole civil rights movement “a political expression.” Volunteer’s discovered that as “Ni**er Lovers” the vast majority of whites were either afraid or treated them as harshly as African Americas. Students returned to their campuses with tools to create their own insurrection with the recognition that conditions in Mississippi were emblematic of issues the the nation still needed to confront. Lengthy excerpt from a remarkable speech by Dave Dennis, a SNNC field worker.  

 

  • This Little Light Part 12 – Conclusion.  We hear from white Mississippians, those who believe they are the vanguard of a new national conservatism, represented by Wallace and Goldwater and those who believe that Mississippi must change.  They explain how Mississippi’s “closed society” keeps its dissenting white citizens silent and its black citizens crushed under a reign of terror if necessary. Howard concluded the interviews predicting that Mississippi Summer will lead to a wave of demands for change across the country.