Freedom Summer: Robert Cohen on the Lasting Legacy of the 1964 Push to Register Black Voters

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In 1964, less than 7% of eligible African-Americans in Mississippi were registered to vote.

Under the leadership of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a mixed race group of more than 800 young volunteers recruited from college campuses around the country traveled to Mississippi that summer to register black voters there.

Risking violence and arrest, they also set up Freedom Schools to educate and empower African-American students for social change.

Before they even arrived in the South, while the group was still training in Ohio, three volunteers—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner—were abducted and murdered by Klansmen.Their bodies were found on August 4, 1964.

In this video marking the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, Steinhardt history and social studies professor Robert Cohen, author of Rebellion in Black and White: Southern Student Activism in the 1960s and Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s, discusses the challenges SNCC faced as well as the lasting legacy of this historic effort by an inter-racial coalition.