Remember history or face repeats

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2014

Freedom Summer was a nonviolent effort by civil rights activists to integrate Mississippi’s segregated political system during 1964.

The campaign was known as the Mississippi Summer Project in which 60,000 black Mississippi residents attended meetings, chose candidates and voted in a “Freedom Election” which paralleled the national elections of 1964 in which they were not allowed to participate.

Over 1,500 volunteers, mostly students from northern colleges, worked in field offices coordinating voter registration.  The first 300 of these volunteers arrived on June 15, 1964.

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The next day two students from New York and a local activist disappeared.  Six weeks later their bodies were found in an earthen dam being constructed outside of Philidelphia, MS.  It took 41 years to convict the ringleader of the beatings/executions.

The volunteers led a campaign to register black voters, establish Freedom Schools, Freedom Houses and community centers in rural areas.

Fifty years later voter suppression still occurs.  Today’s issues still involve voter rights in the form of Voter ID laws and the gutting of the Civil Rights Act; but also include healthcare, education and workers’ rights.  In these days of 24 hour news services shouting about Constitutional rights, let’s not forget that voting is not a privilege; it’s the fundamental right of a democracy.  We should be doing everything to protect that right, not restrict it.

The Pearl River Democratic Party will honor those who worked, fought and died to overcome voter suppression.  We are dedicating this summer “Freedom Summer 2014” which will include voter education and registration through neighborhood events and canvassing.

We ask all Democrats in our county to join us as we walk the neighborhoods spreading our message and introducing our candidates for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Julian Bond at the recent Freedom Summer Conference held in Jackson last month summed up our mission when he said, “What would it take to get the people in this room and the people they know to dedicate their free time and weekends to civic act to register voters and help them become aggressive citizens….do it in memory of slain civic rights workers Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.”

We ask you to dedicate some of your free time and join us.  Contact us at our website, facebook page Pearl River Democrats, or contact our county chair at 601-746-6020/email  See you on the streets of Pearl River County.


By Agnes Dalton