A demonstration in Atlantic City, the site of the 1964 Democratic Convention, in “Freedom Summer.”

“Freedom Summer” Screening Continues Year of Social Justice

Film Recounts Student Activism in the Deep South in 1964

October 9, 2014

The film Freedom Summer will be screened at Lyndon State College on Monday, October 20 at 6 p.m. The film, presented as part of Lyndon’s Year of Social Justice activities, is being shown in collaboration with Vermont Public Television and is free and open to the public. A discussion will follow with panelists Penny Patch, Chris Williams, and Gail Falk—local residents who were all involved with Freedom Summer.

The film recounts the 10 memorable weeks in the summer of 1964, when more than 700 student volunteers from around the country joined organizers and local African Americans in an historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in what was one of the nation’s most viciously racist, segregated states—Mississippi.

The students, black and white, helped black citizens register to vote as well as combat other forms of discrimination, such as inadequate schools and lack of legal aid. Organized by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), civil rights activists hoped that the participation of well-educated, middle-class students, many from prestigious universities, would not only bring results but draw the attention of the nation to the miserable standard of living suffered by blacks in Mississippi.

In many rural counties, African Americans made up the majority of the population. The segregationist white establishment was prepared to use any means necessary to keep them away from the polls and out of elected office. Bruce Watson is the author who wrote the novel on which the film is based. He said, “Mississippi really stood like an island of resistance. There were only 6.7 percent of blacks were registered to vote prior to Freedom Summer compared to 50, 60, or 70 percent in other southern states. Most of the rest of America didn’t seem to care, and that’s what Freedom Summer was about. If we bring white students and black students from all over the country, then everyone will pay attention in Mississippi. We’ll bring America to Mississippi because America is not paying attention to Mississippi.”

The film will be shown on October 20, at 6 p.m. in the Rita Bole Conference Room on the Lyndon State campus. It is free and open to the public. Complete information about the Year of Social Justice, including a glimpse at spring 2015 events, can be found at: LyndonState.edu/SocialJustice.

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