1964 April 20

Mississippi Passes Package of Anti-Civil Rights Activity Laws


In anticipation of Freedom Summer, a major civil rights project that would bring 1,000 mostly white volunteers to the state for a voter registration drive among African-Americans, the Mississippi legislature on this day passed a set of laws designed to restrict civil rights activity. The laws (1) authorized cities to establish curfews that would “restrict the movements of individuals and groups;” (2) doubled the size of the state Highway Patrol and expanded its powers beyond its traditional one of just highway traffic law enforcement; (3) prohibited picketing of all public buildings; (4) increased the penalties that municipal courts could impose, including fines for traffic offenses; and (5) outlawed the distribution of literature related to boycotts.

Freedom Summer began on June 21, 1964, and that night three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, were murdered.

Read a SNCC report on the laws: http://www.crmvet.org/docs/64_sncc_ms_laws.pdf

Learn more about Freedom Summer: Doug McAdam, Freedom Summer (1988)

Watch the documentary film: Freedom Summer (2014)

Watch a documentary on the civil rights struggle in Mississippi, 1962-1964: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXsc-1Wur2w

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