Freedom Summer and The March FROM SELMA TO MONTGOMERY By Zoe Horton

In 1964 civil rights activist groups the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) arranged the Mississippi Summer Project, better known as The Freedom Summer. The goal of the project was the increase black voter registration in Mississippi and the general South.
The Freedom Summer consisted of mostly black Mississipians, but more than 1,000 out of state white volunteers helped the cause. Both races were subject to never ending abuse from Mississippi's white civilians, the KKK, police and state authorities.
The Three Aspects and Goals of Freedom Summer
Even though the Freedom Summer marked a momentous turn in the Civil Rights Movement, the three things they strived for were relatively unsuccessful. Out of the 50 Freedom Schools established, only 1200 students were enrolled. The Democratic National Convention also denied a seat to COFO's integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
"Some Mississippians who knew better mocked the search for the three missing civil rights workers, saying it was only a hoax. Now a nation horrified by mass racial violence in the North is stunned anew by the finding of the three bodes. This was cold-blooded vicious murder, the ultimate act of extremists..." The Boston Globe August 7, 1964

One of the most significant blows to Freedom Summer was the murder of three civil rights activists (seen above). Cruel deaths such as these fueled the fire of the March from Selma to Montgomery Alabama.

"The three were slain for helping Negroes make a reality of the right to vote. It was a lynching, in an atmosphere that only the people of Mississippi themselves can purge. The crime is on their conscience. They will have to live with it, and face the condemnation of an outraged world." -Boston Globe

With the failure of Freedom Summer, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) decided to make Selma, Alabama their focus for their voter registration campeign.

In response to the death of young African American protestor during one of the marches. King and the SCLC regrouped and planned one of their largest protests from Selma to Montgomery Alabama. What they were faced with was brutal abuse.

"...We will never know, now, because of the hasty swinging of clubs and lashes, the hurried use of tear gas, the angry pursuit by mounted possemen that portrayed Alabama as the home of Cossacks and head-crackers unable to cope with a situation like this without losing control. Those who planned this march did not act wisely, but proud and decent Alabamians cannot endorse the reckless brute force used against it Sunday..." The Selma Times-Journal, March 11 1965

Brutal attacks on peaceful protestors

"The picture of Alabama State Troopers using clubs, tear gas, and, some say, bull whips on men, women and children was enough to make any decent person feel sick, revolted and furious. If the caption was missing... one might almost think this was a photo from Nazi Germany..." The Washington Post, Letters to the Editor: Reactions to Selma, Florence Sherman.

After the catastrophic attacks on peaceful protesters, Lyndon B Johnson addressed the nation pledging his support to Dr. King. On March 21, King and 2,000 other proesters set out on their journey once more under the protection of U.S. Army Troops and the Alabama National Guard.

"No tide of racism can stop us" Martin Luther King

The March from Selma to Montgomery was the calling point to the Congress and the nation. In August 1965 Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. This emphasized the 15th Amendment (the right for African Americans to vote), and banished Jim Crow laws across the nation.

2014 marked fifty years since this historic event. To think this kind of discrimination happened a little more than half a century ago!

Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 versus today
The Edmund Pettus Bridge still stands in Selma today. What many don't know is Edmund Pettus was the Grand Dragon of the Alabama Klu Klux Klan during the 1960s. Today, protests such as the one on the right argue that the bridge should be renamed for the heroic act that happened on it, not the murderer who's name is displayed on it.

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