"The sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality."
-Martin Luther King Jr.
During the summer of 1964, thousands of civil rights activists, many of them white college students from the North, descended on Mississippi and other Southern states to try to end disenfranchisement. Organizers chose to focus their efforts on Mississippi because of the record: in 1962 only 6.7 percent of African Americans in the state were registered to vote (lowest in the country). The movement was a partnership between CORE, NAACP and SNCC. On June 15, 1964, the first three hundred arrived. The next day, two of the white students, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both from New York, and a local Afro-American, James Chaney, disappeared. Their badly beaten bodies were found almost 6 weeks later. Their murders were just one example of the threats and harassment the Freedom Summer activists faced throughout the campaign, not only from white supremacist groups, but from local residents and police. Frequent targets included volunteers' homes and freedom schools, which were created in an effort to provide an alternative and free education for blacks.
Below is the link to an NPR special that includes interviews with students who fought for the rights of blacks during Freedom
Here is the full length PBS documentary about Freedom Summer that is mentioned in the interviews.
You can also check out this Brian James song about the campaign that came out in 2012:
To check out how Freedom Summer was commemorated 50 years later in 2014, check out this link: http://freedom50.org/.