Photo: “African-American children in exhibit area,” by Herbert Randall, 1964
Provided by the McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi
Reprinted with permission of Herbert Randall
EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK
[Editors’ Note: The following documents were written by Freedom School students. In retyping these documents for this text, no corrections were made in the spelling or grammar. The writing appears below as it was in the originals. The only change is the names of the students have been reduced to initials.]
What the Summer Project Has Meant by [ZH]
The Summer Project Ment So Much to Me. I Met New people.
They taught us New things about our people, things that we hadnt realized about. The life of famous colored people.
We also learned about writing different letter, that was
a big help. What I liked very much was
meaning of lots of words. Words that I had been over but not nowing the real meaning.
The project ment much to me discussing health, food that prevent different diseases. And if you dont get enough of food containing these vitamins, you may come in conact with these diseases.
The Library means a great deal of help. We learn steps
on how to use the library, which was very important.
All of the SNCC student was just what we needed. I pray
that they come back again.
On Jobs by [LB]
Our problem today is un-employment.
I think the government should bring some kind of factory in the State of Mississippi and someone from the Northern Stats should opperate it. I think a rug factory would be fine for those not getting welfare assistance. We thats getting Welfare assistance cant get a job.
PALMER’S CROSSING FREEDOM NEWS,
Priest’s Creek July 23, 1964 number one St John’s
The Darkness of the Negro Students
Some of the Negro students have been complaining about their teachers. They said their teachers do not give any information about the freeing of their people. The information given to them was false. They teach only what the white man wants us to hear. We have been taught that the white man was responsible for the abolishing of slavery, but that is false. What about the Negro abolitionists?
We have been taught that when the Negroes were free they were helpless. But this is false because they helped themselves by building houses and raising crops.
The reason for my coming out of darkness is by attending Freedom Schools. At this school both sides of the story are told.
In Freedom Schools
I like to go to Freedom School. You would like it too. If you want to come and don’t have a way, let us know.
I think we should all have our equal rights. We Negroes have been beaten, but we will never turn back until we get what belongs to us.
We just want what belongs to us. We don’t want anything else. I think we as Negroes ought to have the right to vote for justice, equal rights, freedom, jobs, we need better books to read. In the stores uptown and down here we have to pay tax. That is a crying shame.
God is looking down on people now. We try to hid things form people, but we can’t hide things from God. We pay tax. I think we should have a right to vote. All of our colored men are getting beaten and put in jail. This unfair I think, don’t you?
[RMC] age 11.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE By the
St. John’s Methodist Church,
Palmer’s Crossing, Hattiesburg, Miss.
In this course of human events, it has become necessary for the Negro people to break away from the customs which have made it very difficult for the Negro to get his God-given rights. We, as citizens of Mississippi, do hereby state that all people should have the right to petition, to assemble, and to use public places. We also have the right to life, liberty, and to seek happiness.
The government has no right to make or to change laws without the consent of the people. No government has the right to take the law into its own hands. All people as citizens have the right to impeach the government when their rights are being taken away.
All voters elect persons to the government. Everyone must vote to elect the person of his choice; so we hereby state that all persons of twenty-one years of age, whether back, white or yellow, have the right to elect the persons of their choice; and if theses persons do not carry out the will of the people, they have the right to alter or abolish the government.
The Negro does not have the right to petition the government for a redress of these grievances:
For equal opportunity.
For better schools and equipment.
For better recreation facilities.
For more public libraries.
For schools for the mentally ill.
For more and better senior colleges.
For better roads in Negro communities.
For training schools in the State of Mississippi.
For more Negro policemen.
For more guarantee of a fair circuit clerk.
For integration in colleges and schools.
The government has made it possible for the white man to have a mock trial in the case of a Negro’s death.
The government has refused to make laws for the public good.
The government has used police brutality.
The government has imposed taxes upon us without representation.
The government has refused to give Negroes the right to go into public places.
The government has marked our registration forms unfairly.
We, therefore, the Negroes of Mississippi assembled, appeal to the government of the state, that no man is free until all men are free. We do hereby declare independence from the unjust laws of Mississippi which conflict with the United States Constitution.
The FREEDOM CARRIER
Vol. I No. I Greenwood, Mississippi July 16,1964
By Editor C.T
We feel free when we can do as we please. We do not like it if anyone tries to stop us. Even a tiny baby will fly into a rage if his hands are held so that he cannot move them. This is not exactly love of freedom, for the baby has nothing in particular that he wants to do with his hands. It is more nearly hatred of restraint. But psychologists tell us that it is one of the few qualities found in all children from birth, and it is probably the basis for man’s love of freedom.
Animals too often seem to want more freedom than they have. The dog strains at the leash to run free. The pet bird flies out of his cave when given the opportunity. Wild animals in zoos pace their cages hour by hour, ready to escape at the first chance. These animals are probably better cared for and fed than they would be if they were free. But animals, like men, crave the freedom to do as they choose.
The Negroes in Mississippi are fed up with the life here. We feel that it is time something was done to stop the killings or murders, the prejudice, the mistreatment of Negroes here. Freedom is a very precious thing to any race of people, but in a nation that is supposed to be free and where oppression still exists, something really has to be done. As our forefathers fought for this nation to be free, we also say to our oppressors “Give us freedom, or give us death.”
July 23rd, Thursday
Published by the students of the Meridian Freedom School
I AM A NEGRO
I am a Negro and proud of its color too,
If you were a Negro wouldn’t you?
I am glad of just what I am now
To be and to do things I know how.
I’m glad to be a Negro so happy and gay
To grow stronger day by day.
I am a Negro and I want to be free as any other child,
To wander about the house and the woods and be wild.
I want to be Free, Free, Free.
HOW I SEE MYSELF AT “21” OR OVER
My aim in life is to be a lawyer. There are not enough Negro Lawyers in Mississippi defending their fellow brothers and sisters. Some people living in Mississippi leave after or before they finish school. I do not see myself in some fancy mansion nor do I see myself living in the scums of places. I just want to live in a decent home living in the neighborhood with people. When I say people I mean both black and white. I do not believe in Segregation. I want to help people. To stop this police brutality. I see myself as a decent, respictable citizen. I want to be a nice person. And I would like for people to treat me the same way. If I do be a lawyer or whatever my profession will be, I will not marry until I finish school, grade and law school, and have a job. I mean a good job. Not babysitting and house keeping.
No I do not plan to leave Mississippi. To help others. I want to look as well as be respectful. Although looks don’t mean everything. It’s what you know. It’s the work that you do and your aim in life. If you lead a good clean life, people will respect you no matter how you look.
With this closing I will say that “I will strive to do the best that I can.”
“What the Summer Project Has Meant” is from the
Iris Greenberg / Freedom Summer Collection, 1963-1964
Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division,
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,
The New York Public Library;
Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
The excerpts from Student Newspapers are from
SNCC, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Papers, 1959-1972 (Sanford, NC: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1982)
PALMER’S CROSSING FREEDOM NEWS: Reel 39, File 166, Page 0129.
FREEDOM CARRIER: Reel 39, File 166, Page 0127.
FREEDOM STAR: Reel 67, File 345, Page 1287.
The original papers are at the King Library and Archives, The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Atlanta, GA