Lessons from Freedom Summer

As the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer approaches, The Hechinger Report will look back at the violence surrounding the 1964 campaign to register blacks to vote in Mississippi and the murders of three civil rights workers. Change has been a long time coming; racial divisions and inequities still run deep. Yet there are many efforts underway to stem the achievement gap between black and white students and to make sure history does not repeat itself.

Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, August 1964.

OPINION: Fannie Lou Hamer survived a prison beating, taught black people their rights and stood up to a president

So why don’t more students know about this Mississippi Civil Rights heroine?

Lynn Gilmore reads to Freedom School students in McComb.

Fifty years later, revamped ‘Freedom Schools,’ still help struggling students

McComb, Miss – When Alana Johnson starts fifth grade at Higgins Middle School on Monday, she may have a leg-up on 10-year-olds who had the summer off. That’s because she…

Willing to die for justice? Comparing post-Katrina student activism to Freedom Summer

­Two of the most significant student movements in the United States occurred in Jackson, Mississippi and New Orleans – separated by less than a three hours’ drive and fifty years.…

Neshoba County branch NAACP president Leroy Clemons lays a bouquet on the memorial of slain civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Miss. (Photo: Kayleigh Skinner)

In Mississippi, summer program attempts to fill gap in civil rights education

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer and the murders of three young civil rights workers in Neshoba County. Yet 50 years later, many students and teachers say…

Marian Wright Edelman and Walt McDonald watch Todd Belcore address the audience about what Mississippi can do to improve education. (Photo: Kayleigh Skinner/The Hechinger Report)

Fifty years after Freedom Summer, Mississippi schools still lag behind

Freedom Summer organizer Bob Moses came to Mississippi 50 years ago, leading the historic voter registration drive for blacks. On Thursday, the civil rights icon was back with a…

Field directors Charles Taylor and Amber Thomas explain how the ballot initiative works to the audience. (Photo: Kayleigh Skinner/The Hechinger Report )

Ballot initiative calls for making fully funded education in Mississippi a right

If Mississippi is going to move past its troubled history, it will take a renewed focus on education — and better funding of its public schools, advocates said Tuesday. Volunteers,…

Left: A young Roy DeBerry poses for his high school graduation picture. DeBerry was 15-years-old when he became a Freedom School student in 1964. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Devine with Freedom's Children) Right: Roy DeBerry, currently the executive director of the Hill Country Project, will soon join the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation to help educate students about the civil rights movement. (Photo courtesy of Aviva Futorian)

Q & A with original freedom school student Roy DeBerry: ‘You need to know about the past’

Roy DeBerry was one of the first to attend Mississippi’s so-called Freedom Schools as a teenager in Holly Springs in 1964. More than 40 of these schools were set…


Hi. Thanks to your support, we provide the best education coverage in the country.

Zachary Schilling works on a report in McComb High School’s Local Cultures elective course, which explores local civil rights figures and events. (Photo: Jackie Mader)

Have lessons about Mississippi’s violent past become optional?

McCOMB, Miss.—It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that Zachary Schilling learned of the racist violence that had transpired in his south Mississippi city during the 1960’s. In…

Next generation of activists confronts Mississippi’s violent past on Freedom Summer anniversary

Philadelphia, Miss. — Emily Dannenberg stepped off an air-conditioned tour bus into oppressive Mississippi heat. The white Columbia University graduate student had come to this steamy rural town last week…

Melinda D. Anderson

People came together 50 summers ago to transform education’s trajectory – let’s finish the job

“Civil rights issue of our time” is the catch phrase no advocate can resist. From transgender discrimination and gun violence to inequality and education, it’s used with astonishing regularity. This slogan – favored by