Education and Social Protest: What Mississippi Can Teach Us Today
Paper presented at Roosevelt University, Chicago on June 15, 2006
By Kathy Emery

A month ago, when I was starting to prepare for tonight, I read an op-ed piece in the NY Times that seemed to sum up the predicament we, as a nation are in.  The author of this op-ed piece was mad at Al Gore and Environmental Defense because they were not providing real solutions to the problem of global warming.  The writer concluded her piece by saying, “Lacking such leadership, we’re left with little more than our increasing anxiety.”

I was astounded by her conclusion.  Here’s a supposedly well educated woman (at least she knows her facts about global warming and the inadequacy of current proposed solutions) furious that there is no knight in shining armour come to rescue us.  So, like most people today, I decided to blame the US education system for her ignorance and lack of problem-solving skills.

Many people feel powerless today.  Part of such a feeling is induced or fostered by an educational system that teaches according to the great man theory of history.  We study the presidents, generals, senators, or even the Martin Luther Kings and Malcolm X’s.  We don’t study how social movements really happen.

If we did, we would learn that waiting for a leader to solve fundamental social, cultural and economic problems is not how it works. For example,  the Montgomery Woman’s Political Council did not sit around waiting for Martin Luther King Jr to convince Montgomery bus owners to desegregate their buses.  They had been planning a boycott for a while and were waiting for the right moment, for the arrest of the right person before deciding to move.  Once Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955, they mobilized, creating the Montgomery Improvement Association and inviting a young and  unknown King to be their spokesperson. 

Another example that challenges the leader-as-savior myth is when two black women in Nashville,  Tennessee, went to a non-violent resistance workshop in 1959. The workshop was being run by James Lawson, a Fellowship of Reconciliation field secretary.  The women who attended this workshop in the Fall of 1959 explained that what really made them upset in a town with segregated theatres, parks, waiting rooms and water fountains were the lunch counters.  They would spend hours shopping in the downtown department stores but could not sit and be served at the lunch counters. That was the real point of contention for them. 

As a result, Lawson (and the college students he was training) decided that they would orchestrate a sit-in at the lunch counters the next spring, now knowing that such a tactic would immediately engage the women in the community. 

That was the point of the sit-ins—to engage the community, to inspire them to leave the sidelines and become part of the solution.  The Sit-Ins spread throughout the upper south and led to the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (Snick). 

Graduates of our educational system do not study this history.  They do not learn that real, fundamental systemic reform happens only in the context of a social movement.  And that social movements only happen when everyday, ordinary people, have been working  together for many years,

•  learning how to organize the community,

•  learning  how to deal with the media,

•  and understanding what the issues are.

All this needs to happen so when the right historical moment presents itself, the multitude of collective action will stream together into a movement bringing about fundamental change. 

Social movements don’t happen unless the groundwork has been laid so that people can take advantage of the right historical moment.   Ordinary, everyday people must lay the groundwork for a social movement by doing very ordinary and everyday acts—having meetings, developing infrastructure, developing a cadre of experienced organizers, printing leaflets, researching issues, debating those issues, printing more leaflets, having vigils, planning boycotts, doing more research, planning and executing sit-ins, die-ins, kneel-ins, jail-ins..  That is what Esau Jenkins, Septima Clark, Jo Ann Robinson, E.D. Nixon, Diane Nash, Amzie Moore, Herbert Lee, Victoria Gray, Annelle Ponder,  Fannie Lou Hamer and hundreds and hundreds of others did.  

But our public schools do not teach this particular history, the history that says it is up to me and everyone in this room tonight to do their part in organizing and empowering our own communities so that we are prepared for the right historical moment, like Katrina might have been. 

As a result, so-called highly educated people can express their sense of helplessness and hopelessness, confident that they speak for everyone. Public schools don’t teach people how they can contribute to fundamental change.  Rosa Parks certainly did not depend on her public education for her understanding of what she could do to challenge segregation.  She gained insight and empowerment, instead,  from Septima Clark at the Highlander School workshops. 

Highlander Folk School was founded in 1932 by Miles Horton.  His experience and reflection led him to believe that solutions to social problems could come only from the people themselves. 

Horton believed that he could contribute to local leadership development by starting a school that would train poor and working class adults to become effective leaders in promoting the interests of their communities.  While the founders of Highlander determined the goal of the school, they also determined that the specifics of the educational program would be decided by the needs of the students,  as the students defined them.

Septima Clark was one of those students.  She went on to help establish Citizenship Schools which were part of the voting rights work that King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began doing after the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Some of the Citizenship School graduates, like Victoria Gray, and some members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, like Bob Moses, planted the seeds of a movement that ended fear and segregation in Mississippi.

But those seeds could not have been planted without fertile soil, soil cultivated by native Mississipians such as Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry and Medgar Evers.  Upon returning from fighting in World War II, these men and countless others were determined to continue fighting for democracy in their native land.  They each became involved in organizing local chapters of the NAACP. These chapters were crucial building blocks of an infrastructure that allowed the Freedom movement to break the back of segregation in Mississippi and the South.

Knowing the specifics, the nitty gritty detail, of this history and its long and complex antecedents became one of the most important parts of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School curriculum.  The Freedom Schools, partly inspired by Highlander and the SCLC Citizenship schools, and partly inspired by the disempowering nature of the Mississippi public education system, became a crucial part of the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. 

The summer project arose out of failed efforts in 1961-2 to desegregate facilities and register black voters in Mississippi.  The crushing poverty of blacks and the particular cohesiveness of the white power structure in the Deep South necessitated the development of a strategy different from that used in the upper South and Northern states. 

The refusal of the federal government to intervene in Mississippi allowed state and local authorities to murder blacks with impunity and deny federal food aid to black sharecroppers who attempted to register to vote.  Violence and economic reprisals trumped the voter registration and direct action tactics that had made gains in other states.

The new strategy in Mississippi avoided a direct assault on the white power structure and necessitated that all four civil rights organizations—NAACP, CORE, SCLC and SNCC—join forces.  The umbrella organization that was created as a result was called the Congress of Federated Organizations, or COFO.

The foot soldiers of each organization, working together, succeeded in laying the groundwork for Freedom Summer by holding a mock, statewide election in 1963.  The purpose of the Freedom vote was to prove to the federal government that blacks in Mississippi wanted to vote but were prevented from voting through discrimination and terror. White Mississippians explained to the outside world that Mississippi blacks did not vote  because they didn’t want to.  The large black turnout for the mock statewide election, known as the  Freedom Vote of 1963,  proved this explanation to be a myth.

The success of this Freedom Vote indicated that the strategy of creating an alternative political party in Mississippi had a good chance of success. SO, in January, 1964, plans for a Freedom Summer began to be made.  The goal of the summer was to create a Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, or MFDP, that would truly represent all Mississippians. 

The plan was to create the entire infrastructure of an alternative state political party, from local precinct meetings, to county conventions, to district conventions, and finally a state convention.  The end result would be to send MFDP delegates to Atlantic City, New Jersey in August to demand that they, the MFDP and not the regular all white state Democratic party should be the ones that helped select the Democratic candidate who would run for President of the United States that Fall. 

There was to be nothing simulated in this national challenge to the legitimacy of the all white Mississippi state party.  Unseating the white power structure of Mississippi at the national nominating convention was the principal STRATEGY of the Mississippi Summer project.  The GOAL was freedom for all Mississippians.

The most problematic decision when planning for Freedom Summer was whether to rely on white volunteers from the North, as was done during the Freedom Vote of 1963.  The white volunteers would trigger federal intervention, thereby gaining some measure of protection or at least media coverage for the predictable reprisals that the Summer Project would provoke. 

But,  SNCC staffer Willie Peacock spoke for many when he protested that relying on whites would undermine the goals of the Summer Project.  He argued that local blacks might cooperate with the white volunteers for reasons that had nothing to do with freedom. “I know that if you bring white people to Mississippi and say ‘Negro, go vote,’ [they will respond] ‘Yassuh, we’ll go try and register and vote.’ I know that’s not permanent. . . . When the one who looks like the oppressor comes and tells them to do something, it’s not commitment. It’s done out of that same slavery mentality.” [1]  

In January, l964, SNCC staffers learned that Louis Allen, who had requested federal protection to testify against the murderer of Herbert Lee, had been found shot in his front yard, the night before he was to have left the state of Mississippi for good. Once more SNCC organizers were reminded of the great risk they were asking the rural poor of Mississippi to assume.

Greater Federal intervention, prompted by the arrival of the white volunteers, with their accompanying power and publicity, seemed the only answer. Bob Moses felt, “I had to step in and make my weight felt in terms of this decision about the summer project. . . . We couldn’t guarantee . . . the safety of the people we were working with. . . . And so that’s how the decision was made to actually invite the students down for the summer of ‘64.”

The decision to invite white northern college students impacted every level of the planning process.  It allowed Charles Cobb to expand the scope of his proposal for Freedom Schools.

Charlie Cobb had been in his last year in high school when the sit-ins started.  In 1961, he enrolled at Howard University, and immediately became involved in nonviolent protests. In the summer of 62, he received a grant from CORE to participate in a workshop in Houston. On his way to Texas he travelled through Mississippi, and met the SNCC staff in Jackson. 

He ended up staying to become a SNCC organizer in Sunflower County in the Mississippi Delta. Cobb joined the voter registration drives, daily going from door to door to talk to the locals to explain why voting was important and going with those, who agreed, to the courthouse to support them in the face of violence and intimidation.

Since voter registration laws in Mississippi required the interpretation of a section of the Mississippi Constitution, Cobb and others in SNCC became involved in adult education, teaching the Mississippi Delta sharecroppers to read and write. [2] Although Cobb, like Peacock, was skeptical about the idea of bringing hundreds of white Northerners to the south for a summer project, he thought that, if they were going to come down, they could be used to help teach in the Freedom Schools. 

In December of 1963 Cobb had written a proposal for the Freedom Schools. He knew that voter registration in of itself could not liberate Mississippi blacks from, what Peacock called, the slave mentality.  To accomplish that, alternative schools were needed. Cobb understood that, in Mississippi, “schools as institutions were part of the apparatus of oppression.” [3] Every aspect of traditional Mississippi schools conveyed the state’s message of racial inferiority and of the need for black children to adjust to their “place.”  In the cotton lands of the Delta, schools were closed during picking season. Libraries with books discarded from the white schools and science labs without equipment were the rule. In order to keep their jobs, African American public school teachers were often silent on political issues. Cobb explained to the volunteer teachers:

Here [in Mississippi], an idea of your own is a SUBVERSION that must be SQUELCHED. . . . Learning here means learning to stay in your place. Your place is to be satisfied—a “good nigger.” They have learned the learning necessary for immediate survival: that silence is safest, so volunteer nothing; that the teacher is the state, and tell them only what they want to hear; that the law and learning are white man’s law and learning. [4]

The Freedom School concept proposed by Cobb added the school to the institutions that SNCC had set out to challenge, transform, or, if necessary, to replace. In addition to opening the minds of the students to questioning, the schools would be an effective tool for political organizing; in the classroom, students would be trained to become local civil rights workers. Cobb explained,

The overall theme of the school would be the student as a force for social change in Mississippi. [5]  

What if we showed what was possible in education? We had already been approaching this through ‘literacy workshops’ within the context of organizing for voter registration. And SNCC itself had created a ‘nonviolent high school’ during the 1961 protests in McComb. . . .But we hadn’t really tackled education as an approach to community organizing in and of itself. Significantly, the model for how to do this emerged from …. the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. [6]

In the Freedom Schools, as they had in the Freedom Vote and the Mississippi  Freedom Democratic Party, COFO and the SNCC workers set about creating an alternative.

Ed King saw the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the Freedom Schools as allies in the process of social change. “Our assumption was that the parents of the Freedom School children, when we met them at night, that the Freedom Democratic Party would be the PTA. . . . We were going deliberately to reach the parents through the children. At the same time, we felt that we were liberating the children.” In both situations, the goal was the sharing of power.

King continued:  

The teacher has something to share, but the teacher would believe that the students have something more than the teacher has and that, in the dynamic between teacher and student, there is something greater than either. . . . What we were doing with Freedom Schools, or with adult literacy classes, was helping people understand themselves, respect themselves, understand their world, and therefore seize power. . . . Education is sharing, and then enabling, and then letting go. [7]

The first step in creating the Freedom Schools was the planning of curriculum. In the spring of l964, the National Council of Churches sponsored a conference in New York to plan for the Freedom Schools. Around 60 organizers and educators attended including SCLC’s Septima Clark; Highlander’s Myles Horton; Noel Day, a junior-high school teacher who had organized a one-day program during the 1963 Boston school boycott; Norma Becker and Sandra Adickes, both New York teachers and activist members of the United Federation of Teachers; and Staughton Lynd, political activist and professor of history at Spelman College, later state-wide director of the Freedom Schools.

At the center of the curriculum was education’s most powerful tool: the question. The curriculum was tofocus on the students’ experience;  encourage questioning, discussion, and action; and offer remediation in both skills and content. In addition to African American history and political organizing, the students would study math, science, reading, art, and music.

The curriculum planned during the conference was written by different people and assembled by Lois Chaffee, co-chair of the Currciulum Committee. It was then reproduced in Atlanta and Staughton and Alice Lynd brought it to Ohio for the orientation session at the Western States College for Women in Oxford.

The teaching staff was recruited from the ranks of the Mississippi Summer Project volunteers.  Few of these were professional teachers.  In their orientation at Oxford, they learned about the political and economic conditions of Mississippi, the type of education their students would have received in the state’s segregated schools, and the techniques which might help open the minds of their students to new ideas and possibilities.

Historian Howard Zinn described the advice the teachers were given at Oxford:

You’ll arrive in Ruleville, in the Delta. It will be 100 degrees, and you’ll be sweaty and dirty. You won’t be able to bathe often or sleep well or eat good food. The first day of school, there may be four teachers and three students. And the local Negro minister will phone to say you can’t use his church basement after all, because his life has been threatened. And the curriculum we’ve drawn up—Negro history and American government—may be something you know only a little about yourself. Well, you’ll knock on doors all day in the hot sun to find students. You’ll meet on someone’s lawn under a tree. You’ll tear up the curriculum and teach what you know. [8]

At Oxford, a lot of time was spent on training the students how to come back home alive.  Those who had not been taking these lessons seriously got a reality check when the disappearance of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney was announced halfway through the orientation period.  Knowing that the disappearance meant they had been murdered, a few of the white volunteers decided to leave the program.  Those that decided to continue began to listen more carefully to their trainers.

The first Freedom School teachers arrived in Mississippi in late June, planning to open twenty schools with approximately one thousand students. Like SNCC field secretaries and other summer volunteers, most teachers stayed in the homes of local people.

Classrooms were found anywhere the black community was willing to house them—in churches, in basements, on porches, under trees. All together, there were forty-one Freedom Schools. Attendance was entirely voluntary; part of a teacher’s task was to canvass for students. Like voter registration workers, teachers knocked on doors, explained their purpose, and encouraged participation. Often, to establish their link with the community, they were accompanied by local teenagers who had showed up at the COFO office.

Word of the schools spread from one student to another, and gradually the classes began to fill. The anticipated enrolment of one thousand grew, day by day, student by student, to two thousand. Classes were attended not only by the teenagers for whom they were planned but by both younger children and adults.

The Freedom Schools accomplished many things, not the least of which was giving the students a belief that they can act, with others, to change the culture of fear and the mechanisms of repression in their towns and their state.  This was accomplished in several ways:

1.    the students were encouraged to ask questions whenever they had them AND the teachers did their best to respond to the question.

2.    teachers encouraged students to disagree with them

3.    The teachers, almost as young or younger than their students, acted on the premise that the teacher/student relationship was a partnership – one manifestation of that was that the teachers were called by their first names.

4.    The teachers deviated from the written curriculum whenever student interest dictated.  This led to a great deal of talk about history, specifically the history of blacks in Mississippi and in the nation.

One freedom school teacher, writing a year later for the Harvard Educational Review, explained why the students may have been particularly interested in black history.  

The Citizenship Curriculum, the discussion of which filled most of our mornings, is frankly a response to the repressive society Charles Cobb has described.  It is aimed at meeting two basic needs of students: first, a need for information; second, a need for identity and hence activity. The “facts” of history; in terms of dates, people’s names, places, events, as well as the interpretations of history—all this has been denied to them, and denied particularly in relation to their own situation as American Negroes.  Not only is Negro history unknown to them, but even the history of the current Negro revolution is known only in bits and pieces, largely through television, since their newspapers are notoriously uninformative.  The second need, the need for identity and activity, is organically one with the need for facts.  It has to do with what happens when an individual begins to know himself as part of history, with a past and a potential future as well as a present.  What happens when an individual begins to assess himself as a human being? 
The aim of the Citizenship Curriculum here is to assist the growth of self-respect, through self awareness, both of which lead to self-help.  In this way, the curriculum at the center of the Freedom Schools is frankly and avowedly a program for leadership development. [9]  

The Mississippi Freedom Schools were very effective at meeting the students basic needs for information and identity.  Evidence of this is written into the historical record of Mississippi Freedom Summer. 

But we really don’t need the evidence of what the Freedom school students accomplished during and after the Summer of 1964 to know how important it is to allow students to know themselves as part of history or to let students assess themselves as human beings.

The empowering effect of knowing one’s own history and culture in the context of the larger society is well known, if not always acknowledged.  The empowering effect of allowing students to participate in the creation of their own understanding of such a history is also well known, if not always acknowledged.

And the effectiveness of the US public school system in preventing students from studying their own history as a means of developing self respect and self help is especially well known by those who reject the system or are pushed out because they find the system toxic to their mental health.  Those who conform to the educational system and find success within it have given up the possibility for power in exchange for privilege.

They have made a Faustian bargain in which they give their consent to a repressive system, even becoming apologists for it, in return for material things.  And since they are in denial about this agreement, they feel powerless to change their own lives.  If you feel powerless to change your own life, you certainly don’t feel you can change any one else’s either.

So, not surprisingly, one of the units of the 1964  FS Citizenship Curriculum challenged the very premise of this bargain.  Unit VI of the Curriculum was titled “Soul Things and Material Things”  It followed an analysis of the White Power Structure.

Some of the questions that Unit VI posed were:

……Would just taking their money and power away and keeping it ourselves make us happy? Wouldn’t we have to be afraid and distrust people too? Wouldn’t we have to make up lies to convince ourselves that we were right? Wouldn’t we have to make up lies to convince other people that we were right? Wouldn’t we, too, have to keep other people down in order to keep ourselves up?
Suppose you had a million dollars. You could buy a boat, a big car, a house, clothes, food, and many good things. But could you buy a friend? Could you buy a spring morning? Could you buy health? And how could we be happy without friends, health, and spring?

UNIT VI argued that

This is a freedom movement; suppose this movement could get a good house and job for all Negroes. Suppose Negroes had everything that the middle class of America has . . . everything that the rest of the country has . . . would it be enough? Why are there heart attacks and diseases and so much awful unhappiness in the middle class . . . which seems to be so free? Why the Bomb?

UNIT VI encouraged Freedom School teachers to challenge their students to confront trade offs between “SOUL things” and “Material Things” such as

1. Money—should a few people have a lot of money, should everybody have the same, should everybody have what they need? …. ……….


5. Education—Should all children be able to go to the same schools regardless of their race or religion? . . . . Suppose they can’t afford to go to special high schools or to college? Should they still be able to go? How? Who should pay?
What should be taught in schools? Do we teach myths and lies? Why? Should we? Should we train people for jobs in schools? To be good citizens? What else should we train people for?—culture, resourcefulness, world citizenship, respect for other people and cultures, peace?
What about teaching adults? Should they have a chance too? Should it be free? Should they be able to go to special schools if necessary? …….

Finally UNIT VI asked:

Do you have a set of values? Are society’s laws enough? Are your own personal “laws” important, too? Are they even more important than society’s laws?

Freedom School teachers were encouraged to teach academic skills in the context of these questions and in the context of political organizing.  It was believed that skills are most effectively learned when the purposes for which those skills would be used were purposes that the students believed in and could see the direct connection between means and ends.

Questions regarding trade offs between soul things and material things and the progressive methodology of teaching skills in the context of experience were the essence of the Freedom School Curriculum because the schools were part of a social movement that was about freedom. 

Freedom of association, freedom of expression , freedom from fear, freedom from hunger, freedom from having to do back breaking work for poverty wages.  

To refer to this social movement as a Civil Rights movement and not a Southern Freedom movement is to confuse the means with the ends.  Desegregation and voting rights were strategies not ends in themselves.  Ordinary, everyday people put their livelihoods and lives on the line for Freedom.  The Freedom School curriculum makes this distinction very clear.  The goal of the curriculum was to help students become active agents of social change.  

From my own experience and education, I have concluded that 

goals determine method and content

If the goal is to empower, then the method must be Socratic and the content must connect to the lives of the students.  If the goal is to disempower (in order to control and sort) then the method and content must be such that students must be made to agree to learn material for which they do not see a purpose for learning.  And they must learn that the teacher defines the parameters of discussion. 

This is why the Freedom School Curriculum was based on having students learn to ask questions about their own lives.  There were the recurring “Basic Set” of questions:

1. Why are we (students and teachers) in Freedom Schools?
2. What is the freedom movement?
3. What alternatives does the freedom movement offer us?

But there were also the “Secondary Set of Questions”

1. What does the majority culture have that we want?
2. What does the majority culture have that we don’t want?
3. What do we have that we want to keep?

These were the overarching questions that teachers and students were encouraged to consider after every lesson.

So..what are the big picture questions that teachers, even progressive teachers, encourage their students to ask today?  I was recently on a panel at a progressive college and the audience consisted of teachers in training.

The topic for the evening was high stakes testing of which everyone disapproved.  The panellists included a school board member, a parent activist,  a school principal and two teacher activists.  All were avowed opponents of using one test to make important decisions about individual students. 

And yet, they all accepted the premise that their goal was to help all the students score well on standardized tests.  To do that, they argued, poor students need to have the same resources that wealthy students have, they need to be taught the same information in the same way as wealthy white students are.   They need to become like wealthy white students. 

No one argued against “raising test scores” as an educational goal. Nor did anyone challenge the assumption that the achievement gap debate accepts as its premise, that students of color are culturally deprived.  No one asked:

1. What does the dominant culture have that we want?
2. What does the dominant culture have that we don’t want?
3. What do we have that we want to keep?

Unlike Freedom Schools, most urban public schools are not part of the communities in which they reside, they do not serve the goals of those communities.  They do not help students pursue the answers to questions most pressing to their lives and futures.

Most people will argue that schools shouldn’t be organized around helping students become active agents of social change.  I am arguing that unless they are, the policies and practices of our nation will continue to be decided by a few, very rich, white men whose concept of the future is the next quarterly report earning statement.  And that everyone else will feel powerless to mitigate the consequences of such short sighted decision making.

Today, urban poor and working class students of color are being resegregated into underfunded, so called “low performing” schools, schools in which science, history, drama, music, painting, and phys ed are being eliminated while math and reading test prep drills fill the day. 

Such a curriculum is effective in preventing these students from asking:

Who am I?
How am I a product of my family?
How is my family a product of my community?

How has my community been shaped or limited by the structures of society?
How has my community shaped its own history and identity?
How can I participate in shaping my future, the future of my community?

What do they have that I want?
What do they have that I don’t want?
What do I have that I want to keep?

The drill and kill curriculum being imposed on segregated low performing schools has become very effective in increasing the historic pushout rates for poor students of color.  In its 150 year history, public schools have never served the needs of these students.  And yet, under the anvil of high stakes testing, the situation is getting remarkably worse.

Many in the middle class are allowing themselves to remain ignorant of this development, accepting the rhetoric as reality. The educational system is being transformed to legitimise the growing polarization of wealth and increased prison population of our new, service economy.  Perhaps the middle class is in denial because they don’t feel they can do anything about this, or perhaps they are afraid of losing their material things if they challenge the myths and structures upon which their privilege is based?

Meanwhile, their children continue to learn, what they have been learning for the last 150 years, that is, to do what the teacher tells them to do.  Many don’t see what their alternatives are, how CAN they when they are not being taught how social movements happen.  These students grow up and become adults who then wonder why US politicians and nonprofit defense funds aren’t leading the way in solving the systemic catastrophes that are besetting us today.

Iraq, WMDs, rendition, torture, Darfur, deficits, wire tapping, species extinction, global warming, declining wages, lost pensions, energy crisis, AIDS, looming pandemics, child prostitution, the politics of divide and conquer, prisons, poverty, etc.

These problems are no more daunting than the reign of terror under which Mississippi blacks lived for decades. But the Freedom Fighters of the Southern Freedom Movement were able to effect fundamental change in Mississippi in the Sixties.  We could learn how to build the next social movement from their story. That is what Mississippi can teach us today.

[1] John Dittmer, Local Peop Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994. 210.

[2]   Charles Cobb Oral history,

[3] Cobb, “Organizing the Freedom Schools,” in Erenrich, Susan, ed., Freedom Is a Constant Struggle. Montgomery, AL. Black Belt Press. 1999. p. 136

[4] Len Holt, . The Summer that Didn't End: The Story of the Mississippi Civil Rights Project 1964, and its Challenges to America. London: Heinemann, 1966. pp. 105-106

[5] Cobb, quoted in Chilcoat and Ligon, “Developing Democratic Citizens: The Mississippi Freedom Schools,” in Erenrich, Susan, ed., Freedom Is a Constant Struggle. Montgomery, AL. Black Belt Press. 1999.  p. 110.

[6] Cobb, “Organizing the Freedom Schools,” in Erenrich, Susan, ed., Freedom Is a Constant Struggle. Montgomery, AL. Black Belt Press. 1999., p. 136.

[7] King, Ed. Interview by Linda Gold. Jackson, Mississippi, 19 August 1998.

[8] Howard Zinn, “Freedom Schools,” The Zinn Reader, New York: Seven Stories Press, 1997 p. 531

[9] P. 152  Florence Howe, , “Mississippi’s Freedom Schools: The Politics of Education,” Harvard Educational Review, vol 35, 1965, number 2. pp. 144-160.