Posted by: helenrobertsbradford | July 5, 2010

Freedom summer

Lowndes County Freedom Association poster

Part of a Lowndes County Freedom Association poster, 1965

This poster was found in the Peace News archive, in a file on the Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee.  The poster was produced for the Lowndes County Freedom Association in 1965, during a voter registration campaign organised by Stokely Carmichael.   The poster reprints a long quotation from the 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass, in support of the struggle for black civil rights.  It also features the first use of the black panther as a symbol of black power.

The SNCC, which began in 1960 in North Carolina, was in regular contact with Peace News during 1964-1965 and sent detailed updates on the progress of the civil rights movement.  The high point of its campaign was ‘freedom summer’ in 1964, when hundreds of volunteers gathered in Mississippi  to register black voters and hold ‘freedom schools’.  The document below gives some idea of the response from white supremacists – in total 30 black homes and 37 black churches were fire-bombed and 3 civil rights activists were murdered by members of the Klu Klux Klan.

SNCC press release

SNCC press release about bombings and burnings in Mississippi, summer 1964

The Peace News archive also contains files of editorial correspondence with contributors such as William Worthy, John Papworth and Jim Peck, who reported on and were directly involved in the civil rights movement. John Papworth for example writes about his imprisonment in Albany, Georgia, in early 1964, along with 25 other black and white peace activists who were attempting to lead the Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Peace March through a segregated area.

Wonderful resources for researching African American history, including the civil rights era, are available on the website, The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed.  This includes an online encyclopedia and full text primary sources.

Frederick Douglass should have the last word:

If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.


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