MSU to hold Freedom Summer conference

Contact: Leah Barbour

More than 900 brave, determined and resilient volunteers flooded Mississippi in 1964 for the Freedom Summer Project, and Mississippi State University is celebrating that effort's impact on equality and human rights.

The Freedom Summer Project called volunteers, mostly northern white college students, to launch the drive to register blacks to vote in Mississippi, the state with the lowest percentage of black voters at that time. After Freedom Summer activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwermer were murdered in June by the Ku Klux Klan for registering Neshoba County blacks to vote, national outcry led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"Remembering Freedom Summer: Building a Better Future" will be held at MSU Oct. 19-21 in Colvard Student Union. While the conference is free and open to the public, participants should register in advance at www.aas.msstate.edu/fsc/reg.

Numerous Freedom Summer volunteers, students, activists and photographers will speak, as well as recognized scholars from MSU and other universities all over the country.

Plenary sessions include:

--Oct. 20, 8 a.m., "Remembering Freedom Summer." Freedom Summer students and volunteers speaking will be 1961 Freedom Rider and Freedom Summer activist Dave Dennis, Freedom Summer volunteer Chude Allen, Freedom Summer volunteer Mark Levy, Freedom Summer organizer Doris Derby, Colum Law Firm attorney and founder Wilbur Colom, Freedom Summer organizer Hollis Watkins and Freedom Summer activist Anthony Harris, as well as Starkville Vice Mayor Roy A Perkins. Finance and economics professor Meghan J. Millea will chair and College of Arts & Sciences Dean Gregory Dunaway will offer the welcome. Charles E. Cobb Jr., visiting professor of African Studies at Brown University, will moderate.

--Oct. 20, 1 p.m., "Plenary Session B." Featured speakers will be MSU African-American Studies Senior Fellow K.C. Morrison, MSU President Mark E. Keenum, Tougaloo College President Beverly Hogan, former Mississippi Gov. William Winter and Freedom Summer volunteer Chude Allen.

--Oct. 21, 8 a.m., "Freedom Summer: Building a Better Future." Academics and activists in the panel will be The Montgomery Institute President Bill Scaggs, Florida A&M University assistant professor Kristal Moore Clemons, Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater College of Arts and Communication Dean Mark McPhail, Dave Dennis, Wilbur Colom and Mercer University professor Anthony J. Harris. WCBI-TV news anchor and reporter Andrea Self will chair, and MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert will offer the welcome. Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman will give remarks, and Cobb will moderate.

Other distinguished speakers will be authors Susan Follett, Francoise Hamlin, Michael Williams and Flonzie Brown Wright, along with additional Freedom Summer students and volunteers Roy DeBerry, Roscoe Jones, Larry Rubin and Gloria Clark. Academic speakers will represent University of Florida, University of Texas, College of Charleston, University of North Carolina, Alcorn State University and Miami University.

MSU's African-American Studies program is sponsoring the two-day conference; more information is available at www.aas.msstate.edu.

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