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Freedom Summer excerpt, Why people went

Discussion at Ohio orientation about why they were going: “‘Are you going,’ Vincent Harding started, ‘as “In” members of the society to pull the “Outs” in with you? Or are we all “Outs”? Are you going to bring the Negroes of Mississippi into the doubtful pleasures of middleclass existence, or to seek to build a new kind of existence in which words like ‘middle-class’ may no longer be relevant? Are we trying to make liberal readjustments or basic change?’ The floor took over.

White boy: ‘For me there is only one race, the human race. It’s one nation. Mississippi is our back yard as much as Harlem. I’ve had it good for along time. But I’ve seen too many people hungry for too long.’

Negro boy: ‘We have to try to change the South so that the people of the North will want to do better. The South is a battle-field: The North is in a stalemate. For us, it’s all intolerable. But we have to work where the situation is flexible enough for change. Open hate is preferable to hypocrisy – it can be moved.'

White girl: ‘There’s not enough justice and not enough liberty. There’s not enough truth and there’s not enough beauty. Who will work to make these things? It’s everyone’s job.’

Southern white boy: ‘I’m involved in this for my own freedom. We have to build a new South, a South ruled by law, democracy, and humanity. I couldn’t not have come.’

White boy: ‘I’m going because the worst thing after burning churches and murdering children is keeping silent.’”


Belfrage, Sally. Freedom Summer. New York: The Viking Press, 1965, p. 7.

Other license (see note)
Date / time
Belfrage, Sally
Viking Press
Freedom Summer
Date published

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Freedom Summer excerpt, Why people went." (Viewed on January 16, 2018) <>.


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