1964 June 21

Mississippi Freedom Summer Project Begins; Three Civil Rights Workers Murdered


The Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, organized largely by SNCC (April 15, 1960), brought about 1,000 volunteers, mostly white college students, to the state to register African-American voters and teach in Freedom Schools. On this the first day of the project, James Chaney, an African-American and native of Mississippi, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, both white volunteers, were kidnapped by Ku Klux Klan members, tortured, and then murdered. Their bodies were not recovered until August 4, 1964. The murderers were tried and convicted on October 20, 1967.

One component of Freedom Summer was helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was founded on April 26, 1964. That August, the MFDP demanded that its racially integrated delegation be seated at the 1964 Democratic Party Convention in place of the all-white, segregationist “regular” delegation. See in particular Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous speech at the convention on August 22, 1964.

In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded posthumously, the Presidential Medal of Freedom to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.

Read SNCC Report on Violence in Mississippi, 1961–Early 1964:

Read original documents about Freedom Summer:

Watch the documentary: Freedom Summer (2014)

Learn more: Doug McAdam, Freedom Summer (1988)

Learn more about Freedom Summer:

See the work of the Andrew Goodman Foundation web site: http://www.andrewgoodman.org/

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