The mid 1900's was a time of both many political and social movements, many of which involving African Americans. This era of American history was one of great perseverance and courage shown by those who participated.
In 1964, thousands of blacks and whites, many of which associated with the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), convened in the state of Mississippi, under the leadership of SNCC organizer Robert Moses, to protest the political disenfranchisement the blacks were receiving at the time within many Deep Southern states.
The vast majority of the white participants were well educated students.
Participants chose Mississippi due to the fact that it had the lowest percentage of black registered voters of any state in the country, while the state was composed of mainly African Americans.
Although African Americans had received the right to vote through the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, many Southern states were not allowing blacks to exercise this right for the past century.
The formation of a new political party within the state was also a major focus of the protesters. The Mississippi freedom party (MFDP) was formed, consisting of over 80,000 residents of Mississippi, who then elected 68 delegates who then went to the national Democratic Party convention held in Atlantic City.
The establishment of over 30 "Freedom Schools" was a huge success for the group. Scattered throughout Mississippi, these schools were built to shine light on the flaws within the state's educational system. Ultimately, these schools were terribly unfortunate economically, and were forced to use hand-me-down books. In these schools, many of the white students were the primary teachers, where subjects such as black history, the philosophy of the Civil Rights movement, leadership, as well as a reinforcement of reading and arithmetic. The original aspiration for the movement leaders was that the school could obtain somewhere around the total of 1,000 students. This was tripled as they received over 3,000.
Deep South racism shortly arose; however, as 37 black churches and 30 homes and businesses were burned to the ground. Mobs and policemen joined in on the fighting, as upwards of 1,000 volunteers of the movement were arrested, both black and white, and over 80 arrested.
This was not the end of the oppression felt by the protesters. The most malicious act of the summer came on the day of June 21, 1964. Two white volunteers, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, and their black colleague, James Chaney, were given the job of investigating a recently burned down church in the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi. While on the way there, the three men were arrested on supposed traffic violations, and spent the next few hours in jail. Six weeks after their release, their bodies were found under a dam. Goodman and Schwerner were both killed by single gun shot wounds to the chest, while Chaney was found to have been beaten to death. Their release from prison was the last time any of them were seen alive.
This news of these murders quickly became national news, and sparked an outpouring of nationwide support for the Civil Rights Movement. However, due to the fact that two of the volunteers murdered were white, many of the black volunteers began to question whether the support was truly legitimate. In the past, the murders of solely black men had never become this widespread news.
Black volunteers began then to express their discontent with the white volunteers. A large concern of the blacks was that the whites seemed to think that they were entitled to higher positions than the blacks within the protest, and treated their black colleagues as ignorant.
However, the added tension between the whites and blacks within the protest was not enough to shine a bad light on the movement. The protest made its point known through national headlines, and helped preach the need to end the disenfranchisement of blacks. The hard work of these men and women led to the eventual 1965 Voting Rights Act, making tactics used by authorities to not allow blacks to vote completely illegal.