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Introduction - Freedom Summer Information Session (fictional)

  1. When students arrive, welcome them to an information session about Freedom Summer with the following introduction:

    Welcome to your information session about Mississippi Freedom Summer. You are all here because you care about civil rights and the situation in the South and are considering going to Mississippi to participate in Freedom Summer. I want to thank each of you for applying to be part of this important project sponsored by the Council of Federated Organizations. Our application process is thorough because we want to be sure that we have the best volunteers with the clearest of goals for this project. As you know, Freedom Summer volunteers will be leaving shortly for Mississippi (point to the map and show your students where they will be going) and other southern communities. While there, some of you will be teaching black literature, constitutional rights, reading, and math in our newly organized Freedom Schools. These schools will provide a strong educational foundation for Southern Negro children. Others of you will be registering southern Negroes to vote. Still others will be helping to organize an integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, since as you know the Mississippi Democratic Party is currently all white. We're hoping that your work will help motivate the National Democratic Party to seat a new integrated delegation at the National Convention coming up later this year. All of our efforts will be towards a goal of improving the situation for the Negro community in the South.

    We know that many of you have already heard of the recent tragedy that took place when Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney disappeared on their first day in Mississippi. Their bodies have not been found, but they are likely dead. These three young men (point to their pictures on the poster) who were civil rights activists, just like some of you, had gone to investigate a church bombing when they were arrested. After nightfall, they were released from jail only to disappear on the backroads of Mississippi. We have heard rumors that they were ambushed by the KKK. As you know, if James Chaney had been alone, it is unlikely his disappearance would have been investigated, but because Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were white, and because Schwerner's young wife – a fellow activist who was preparing to return to the South as a Freedom Summer volunteer – has kept the pressure on local and national authorities, federal officials are now searching for these men. We understand that this event may have made some of you think twice about volunteering to go south as a volunteer with Freedom Summer, but it also shows just how important our work is in changing the current situation in Mississippi and other parts of the South. You have until the end of today's orientation to decide if you're coming with us.

  2. Help students understand that today they are each taking on the role of a college student in 1964, and then divide them into three groups:

    We are going to divide into 3 groups or corps for today's information session and you will visit 3 different stations relating to our work. Take a moment to think about where you're from, where you go to school, who the members of your family are, who your friends are, and why you are thinking about volunteering for Freedom Summer. Keep in mind that at each station you will be asked to consider three questions:

  • Why are you here?

  • What is motivating you to go or not go?

  • Based on your skills and talents, which of the three main projects (Freedom Schools, Voting Registration, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party) could you contribute to the most?

    How to cite this page

    Jewish Women's Archive. "Introduction - Freedom Summer Information Session (fictional)." (Viewed on July 26, 2014) <http://jwa.org/node/11858>.

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